We are big fans of the One World, One Health Initiative here at Galaxy Diagnostics. Researchers and practitioners in the area of public health are increasingly aware of the important links between human health, animal health and the health of the environment. In a recent One Health commentary, physician & researcher Jim Hughes of Emory University noted that “When the SARS pandemic was recognized in early 2003, CDC investigators soon realized that the veterinary community was much more knowledgeable about coronavirus infections than those of us involved in human medicine and public health.”
In our experience certainly, a wealth of knowledge concerning zoonotic disease (from animals) and vector-borne disease (from insects, or, blood-sucking arthropods to be more precise) can be found in veterinary medicine where medical researchers study infectious disease across species. As a result, veterinarians receive a great deal more training in infectious disease than most physicians outside of the infectious disease specialty.
In the same One Health commentary, Dr. Hughes further suggests that “When taking a history from a patient with an unexplained febrile illness, it is important to elicit information about occupational and environmental exposures (including hobbies), recent domestic and foreign travel, and pet and wildlife exposure as the responses may provide important clues to the diagnosis or suggest the need for consultation with experts in other disciplines.” We, too, urge physcians to consider these factors when addressing unexplained fevers and other mysterious symptoms.
In fact, we would further urge physicians to consider the possibility of an infectious etiology in cases of immune-related symptoms. Rapid advances in testing technologies are producing new understandings about the critical role played by hard-to-detect pathogens in human and animal health. We are also becoming more aware of the links between our health and the health of the pets we live with and the animals we work with each day.
Thank you, Dr Hughes, for your excellent insights and suggestions.
Amanda B. Elam, PhD