One Health in Action
California scientists and veterinarians found themselves in the middle of a mystery in 2007. Over the span of a year, 11 dead or dying sea otters had been found around Monterey Bay, California. The sea otters’ gums had turned yellow and they had swollen livers, but when scientists and veterinarians tested for common diseases that can affect the liver, they didn’t find anything. They started exploring other possibilities and finally found a clue—a positive lab test revealed that the sea otters had died of something called microcystin. Microcystin is a toxin given off by a type of phytoplankton called cyanobacteria, also commonly known as “blue-green algae.”
In late 1997, a disease outbreak began in East Africa. In three months, 90,000 people became sick and almost 500 people died. Many animals in the region also died, causing economic difficulties for the people who relied on these animals for milk, meat, and as a trading commodity. The loss of human lives and animals was devastating for these communities. The cause of this outbreak was the Rift Valley fever virus.
In early 2010, ducks began to disappear in northern Nigeria. People would later report that they noticed there were fewer ducks in the area, but no one thought it was important at the time.
However, a few months later in May 2010, public health officials learned that hundreds of children had become sick in northern Nigeria. Reports stated that the children suffered from vomiting, abdominal pain, headaches, and seizures. After becoming ill, many of these children had died. The cause was unknown, and such a large number of childhood deaths and illnesses concerned public health officials.
- Page last reviewed: October 25, 2016
- Page last updated: October 25, 2016
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