One Health in Action
In 2011, when an outbreak of variant virus infections in people was linked to exposure to pigs at agricultural fairs, public health officials quickly recognized the need to support states in using a One Health approach to respond effectively to novel influenza A and other zoonotic disease outbreaks in rural areas. The approach would need to involve organizations focused in animal and human health, as well as members of the communities most at risk. In the United States, there are around 7.2 million youth actively in involved in 4-H and FFA combined. CDC and USDA saw that working with these youth groups could be an effective way to reach rural Americans with important influenza and zoonoses prevention education to protect the 150 million people who visit agricultural fairs each year, as well as the animals shown and exhibited in these venues.
Between 2000 and 2013, the Zhambyl region of Kazakhstan reported the second highest number of Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) illnesses in people, out of all the regions in the country. Although outbreaks of CCHF happen regularly in Kazakhstan, public health officials wanted to understand why this particular region had a higher number of cases.
In Thailand, farmers, local health volunteers, and human and animal health officers are using mobile technology to report zoonotic diseases that pose a serious threat to the health of people and animals. Abnormal illnesses and deaths, both in humans and animals, are reported to the Ministry of Public Health using a smartphone application, called FARMER, developed by the ministry’s Bureau of Epidemiology in partnership with CDC’s Division of Global Health Protection. The early reporting of illnesses and deaths allows for faster joint disease investigations involving experts in both animal and human health.
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: July 16, 2018
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