“One Health asks that we recognize the essential link between human, domestic animal and wildlife health and the threat disease poses to people, their food supplies and economies, and the biodiversity essential to maintaining the healthy environments and functioning ecosystems we all require.”
The interconnection of human, animal, and environmental health has been recognized for centuries, but the increased complexity of the modern world was unimaginable 50 years ago when the above “environmental powder keg” analogy was first articulated. The stakes are now much higher and the volatility of the situation has been boosted tremendously. Consider, for example, the following volatile ingredients of a “powder keg” mix: outbreaks of vector-borne human and animal encephalitis that become endemic and sometimes produce fatal disease; an epidemic of a pustule rash in pet owners; chronic poverty and lack of educational opportunities in sub-Sahara Africa; and unscrupulous profiteering combined with poor surveillance of imported commodities.
The interrelationship among animals, humans, and the environment are intimate, significant and farreaching; studying them effectively requires a somewhat novel approach. This multidisciplinary approach to studying and understanding health issues at the nexus of human, animal, and environmental health is today called “One Health.” One Health not only encourages interdisciplinary collaborations, but constitutes a departure from the current emphasis on the clinical care of individual human and veterinary patients to one of disease prevention and health promotion at a meta-ecosystem level.