Monday, July 30, 2012

One Health

About the One Health Project
Last year, Jessie Bjorklund was on the board of the Infectious Disease Interest Group and partnered with the GHLC to bring Dr. Sharon Deem to SLU SOM to talk. Dr. Deem is a Wildlife Veternarian who started the Institute for Conservation Medicine at the St. Louis Zoo. Her talk focused on the concept of One Health, a current initiative that aims to partner veterinary schools, medical schools, and public health schools in an attempt to research and to promote the idea that human health is inextricably linked to environmental and animal health.

Two of Dr. Deem's research studies directly involve this concept: one in Kenya where camels are moving in because of drought and people are eating the camels and getting diseases like Q fever and the other in Madagascar where she is studying domestic animal parasites and their effect on human health. There are also a number of One Health studies based out of St. Louis. At the Tyson Research Center at Washington University there is a PhD studying how tick borne disease incidence is changing based on where humans are living.

The Elective
The elective will be a six week, fall elective beginning Wednesday, October 17th and meeting every other week. There will be an introductory lecture with a few readings followed by group discussion. We will be assigning readings from three different books for various elective days, but will not assign more than 20 pages of reading for a given 2 week period. The books will cover the topic of One Health from the perspective of animal health, human health, and ecology. We will cover topics such as the transmission of zoonotic diseases, how human health is affected by biodiversity and more specific topics such as animal disease and it's implication for treating human disease. With each reading, there will be a set of discussion questions. These questions are for GUIDING discussion on Wednesday only. Students do NOT need to answer them before the elective day, though it would be helpful to at least look over them. 

Students will be required to write a final paper, no less than 2 pages in length. The following questions must be answered in the final paper:

Pick a human disease/issue that interests you (i.e. obesity). Do any other species get this? What factors play a role in these other species developing this issue? How is this issue treated in other species? Are there any implications for how we might optimize our treatment of this issue in humans, based on what we learn from it in other species? 

In addition to these readings and discussions, we are working to find physicians at SLU who will come to one or two of the elective days and give a presentation on One Health from their perspective, and discuss with the students in more detail the physician's role in this initiative. We are also working closely with Dr. Sharon Deem from the Saint Louis Zoo, and there may be opportunities for research and collaboration throughout the year or the following summer (We are hoping to actually go to the Zoo one elective day to have a discussion day with Sharon).

Finally, there will be ~4 lunchtime talks on One Health from various professionals throughout the fall; students will be required to attend at least 2 of these talks. And I would like to note, that I have been in contact with physicians, DVMs and public health professionals all across the nation who are interested in One Health and this would be a great opportunity to collaborate with some very excited, motivated and intelligent professionals who want to help students succeed in this area.

For More on the One Health Project
Saint Louis Zoo - Institute for Conservation Medicine
The One Health Initiative
Practicing “One Health” for the Human Health Clinician

For more information about the One Health Elective, contact Carolyn Hilliard


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