‘One Health’ stresses the link between humans, environmentby adminJanuary 23, 2023 Mahalo for supporting the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Enjoy this free story! The health of humans is interconnected with the health of animals, which are both interconnected with the health of the environment. That is the concept behind One Health, a global initiative and movement that unites human and veterinary medicine and other disciplines in efforts to combat zoonotic disease outbreaks and advance public health preparedness. At the state level, Gov. Josh Green has issued a proclamation declaring January as “Hawaii One Health Month.” “This initiative signals that Hawaii has been and continues to be a leader in One Health, which emphasizes the interconnectedness of human, animal and environmental health,” said veterinarian and advocate Dr. Neil Vezeau. “Within the United States and the world, Hawaii is unique in the variety of life on land, in the sea and in the air that it brings together. With this comes numerous diseases and ecological risks, both man-made and not. A One Health approach is critical to adequately address and even prevent these issues.” Advocates, which include the Hawaii Veterinary Medical Association and Hawaiian Humane Society, say the proclamation expands and increases awareness of One Health efforts in the state. This is increasingly important as the world deals with infectious diseases, zoonotic diseases (disease transmitted from animals), as well as the impacts of climate change and habitat loss — and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In the past 30 years, 75% of new human pathogens have originated from animals, according to Vezeau, and many common causes of infection, such as E. coli and salmonella, are shared with animals and readily found within the environment. Dr. Jill Yoshicedo, executive vice president of the Hawaii Veterinary Medical Association, said awareness of the One Health approach helps inform decision-making, particularly for leaders seeking to comprehensively address issues such as climate change and emerging infectious diseases like COVID-19 or avian influenza. As more humans encroach on wild habitats and interact with nondomesticated animal species, she said, the more opportunities there are for viruses or other infectious organisms to spread and mutate into forms that can cause global pandemics. There is also the damaging impact of pesticides on bee populations, which in turn affects pollination, crop yields and human food supply. “Thinking about how our health is inextricably related to animal health and environmental health,” she said, “also informs our individual everyday decisions: our food choices, the products we buy, appropriate use of antibiotics or other medications, how we care for the native species and habitats we live near.” Toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection which has caused illnesses in endangered Hawaiian monk seals as well as spinner dolphins, is an example of how a multidisciplinary approach is needed to create solutions. The University of Hawaii said in a news release that toxoplasmosis is found globally, infecting warm-blooded animals and humans. Invasive species such as pigs, mongoose, chickens and cats harbor the parasite, which reproduces in the digestive system of cats. The cats shed the oocytes, or eggs, in their feces that in turn can be washed into the ocean. Stephanie Kendrick, director of community engagement for the Hawaiian Humane Society, said the nonprofit was excited to support the One Health initiative. “I think the interconnectedness of all of our human and nonhuman creatures is underappreciated,” she said. “There’s so much connection between human health and animal health — the more we recognize that, the better we’ll do for our entire community broadly.” Research confirms the benefits of a human-animal bond for pet owners, who get significant health benefits from having a pet, she said, while providing a safe and loving home is better for the health of domestic animals. Housing security also affects human and pet health, she said, given that one of the major reasons people surrender animals is because of a move into housing where pets are not allowed. As for toxoplasmosis, one example of a collaboration includes the Pono Cat Parent Pledge, she said, which encourages cat owners to keep their pets indoors and dispose of their litter in the garbage so it does not get into Hawaii’s watershed. Vezeau said “One Health” brings various stakeholders to address issues like toxoplasmosis, and that the proclamation recognizes ongoing work and helps build more programming statewide. “One Health embodies the Hawaiian cultural practice ‘Malama i ka aina’ that focuses on the deep interconnection of people, animals, and all the land,” said Julie Bennington, a veterinarian and lecturer at UH Manoa’s Human Nutrition, Food and Animal Sciences Department , in a statement. “This is a huge step in the right direction.” Related Tags:Editors Leave a Reply Cancel replyYour email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Name * Email * Website Comment * Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.