One Health

One Health is a worldwide concept and strategy recognizing that the health of people, animals, and the environment are all connected. For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) works with physicians, veterinarians, ecologists, and many others to monitor and control public health threats and to learn about how diseases spread among people, animals, and the environment.

Link Between Human, Animal, and Environmental Health

One Health is important at the local, regional, national, and global levels, and there are many examples of its importance. One example of how human, animal, and environmental health are linked involves bacteria, cows, farms, food, lettuce, and humans:

Cows graze next to a lettuce field. Cows can carry E. coli but still look healthy.

E. coli from cow manure in the nearby farm can contaminate the lettuce field.

People eat contaminated lettuce and can become infected with E. coli. Serious illness or sometimes death can result.

Figure 1. Human, animal, and environmental health are linked
(Image Source: CDC - original image)

Another example of One Health involving animals and humans is the shared susceptibility to some diseases and environmental hazards. Animals can serve as early warning signs of potential human illness. An example is birds dying from West Nile virus before people in the same areas get sick from exposures to this virus.

Factors that Affect Human and Animal Health

Some interactions between people, animals, and the environment have changed in recent years and these changes have impacted animal and human health.

 
Factor (Cause) Change (Effect)

Human populations are growing and expanding into new geographic areas.

More people live in close contact with wild and domestic animals. Close contact provides more opportunities for diseases to pass between animals and people.

The earth has experienced changes in climate and land use, such as deforestation and intensive farming practices.

Disruptions in environmental conditions and habitats provide new opportunities for diseases to pass to animals.

International travel and trade have increased.

Diseases can spread quickly across the globe.

Table 1. Factors that affect human and animal health
(Source: CDC: One Health Basics)

Learn more about One Health

 

Knowledge Check

One Health is a concept and strategy recognizing that the health of ________, ________, and __________ are all connected.
Which of the following factors that affect human and animal health is not correct?