Thursday, July 29, 2010

One Health - An Idea Long Overdue

One of the reasons I am so excited about my upcoming interview by Los Angeles Veterinary Public Health for a podcast on their website about that rabies case I was involved in back in 1987 is that it is going to provide another excellent opportunity to put the concept of One Health into action. Dr. Beeler has indicated that she wants to use the interview in presentations to both veterinary students at WU and also physicians at UCLA. We need to take advantage of every chance we get to tighten up the connections between the two professions in recognition that there isn't just "animal health" and "human health" - it's all a continuum, dubbed One Health.

Dr. Weese at Worms & Germs has an excellent post about the concept that is worth a read. He brings up an important point that I don't think I have addressed here yet: that people who know they are immunosuppressed need to be proactive and inform their veterinarians so we can keep them advised of how to safely approach pet ownership.

And because the situation is ever-changing, a single discussion is not enough. It needs to be an ongoing conversation. Back in the early days of AIDS, we veterinarians mistakenly thought that people with the disease simply couldn't own pets because of the risk of zoonotic diseases. Now we know that's not true, and can advise clients how to stay safe and still enjoy Fluffy or Spot. Also, people can forget over time that the transplant they had and are still on medication for might affect their immune system function, as will chemotherapy for cancer, spleen removal, and a host of other conditions and situations.

But we can't spend time telling everyone who walks in the door all this, so we need clients to step up and start the conversation.

So let's hope that One Health gets enough publicity that ALL physicians and All veterinarians hear about and understand their important roles in keeping all animals healthy, even the human animals.