Global Campaign Spotlights Animal-to-Human Disease Transmission

Marcia Frellick

November 03, 2016

Global organizers today launched the first annual One Health Day to raise awareness that people's health is connected to the health of animals and the environment.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is among the many organizations participating. It is taking part in the hashtag Twitter campaign at #OneHealthDay and has updated its website with information about the campaign.

According to the website, "A One Health approach is important because 6 out of every 10 infectious diseases in humans are spread from animals."

Also on the website, readers will find information on zoonotic diseases, such as rabies or West Nile virus fever.

Identifying such disease in animals may be a warning signal for human infection.

"For example, birds often die of West Nile virus before people get sick with West Nile virus fever," the website notes.

The concept that human and animal infections are linked is not new, but it has become more important in the fight against zoonotic diseases, which now make up 75% of today's emerging infectious diseases.

"CDC uses a One Health approach by working with physicians, veterinarians, ecologists, and many others to monitor and control public health threats by learning about how diseases spread among people, animals, and the environment," the agency said in a statement.

Casey Barton Behravesh, DVM, CDC's One Health office director and veterinarian, has also published a blog post about how to prevent the spread of diseases between animals and people.

In it, she describes the danger of handling chicks, who may carry Salmonella bacteria.

She also points out that just this year, eight multistate Salmonella outbreaks have been linked to backyard chickens.

She explains that germs carried by animals can be life threatening to high-risk groups, including children younger than 5 years and anyone with a weak immune system.

Germs can pass from animals to humans by rinsing out an aquarium in the kitchen sink or feeding an animal from your hand at a petting zoo and then touching your mouth or nose.

The CDC says One Health Day aims to engage as many people as possible in education and awareness events and to generate an array of disease-fighting projects worldwide.

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