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One Health Re-emerges

Clinician's Brief (Capsule)

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One Health surveillance refers to the systematic collection, validation, analysis and interpretation of data, and dissemination of information collected on humans, animals, and the environment to enable informed decisions on effective, evidence- and system-based health interventions. One Health surveillance success has been reported during infectious disease and food-borne illness outbreaks, especially multicountry epidemics (eg, rabies, influenza, brucellosis).

Because the concept of One Health surveillance is vast, there are areas in need of closer collaboration. Numerous opportunities for collaboration exist; an example is aggregating databases at the human-animal interface to include animal or zoonotic disease events jointly gathered by organizations such as the Food and Agricultural Organization, the World Organization for Animal Health, and the World Health Organization. In Canada, data about prevalence and resistance for enteric disease pathogens and risk factors is collected along the food chain from animals to humans; this allows for early detection of emerging threats. 

A challenge facing One Health surveillance is engagement of the public health sector, often stymied by legal barriers, funding, data-sharing complexities, ambiguous responsibilities, and barriers between governmental departments and international organizations. The ecosystem health sector is another underused resource, especially given the significant effect of climate change on public health. Further efforts in elucidating practical business consequences of the One Health approach are needed to prove the added value of this approach, including faster, more efficient disease detection and control.


The One Health concept is a strategy to advance the health of humans, the environment, and animals in the 21st century. The effort includes physicians, osteopaths, veterinarians, dentists, and nurses in both the public and private sectors and aims to address advanced biomedical research discoveries, public health efficacy, an expanded scientific knowledge base, and improved medical education and clinical care. The concept of “synergistic and enlightening” collaboration is massive and fraught with challenges but also initiates a spirit of hope and possibility as we face severe public health emergencies (eg, antibiotic resistance, zoonotic pandemics). —Heather Troyer, DVM, DABVP, CVA

This capsule is part of the One Health Initiative.


For global readers, a calculator to convert laboratory values, dosages, and other measurements to SI units can be found here.

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