One Health

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One Health Diagram

One Health is "the collaborative effort of multiple disciplines — working locally, nationally, and globally — to attain optimal health for people, animals and the environment".[1]


One Health is a new phrase, but the concept extends back to ancient times. The recognition that environmental factors can impact human health can be traced as far back as to the Greek physician Hippocrates (c. 460 BCE – c. 370 BCE) in his text "On Airs, Waters, and Places".[2] He promoted the concept that public health depended on a clean environment.[3]

The Italian physician Giovanni Maria Lancisi (1654–1720) was a pioneering epidemiologist, physician, and veterinarian, with a fascination in the role the physical environment played in the spread of disease in humans and animals. Lancisi may have been the first to advocate the use of mosquito nets for prevention of malaria in humans[4] but was also a pioneer in the control of Rinderpest in cattle. The idea that human, animal, and environmental healths are linked was further revived during the French Revolution by Louis-René Villerme (1782–1863) and Alexandre Parent du Châtelet (1790–1835) who developed the specialty of public hygiene.[5]

In the late 19th century, German physician and pathologist Rudolf Virchow (1821–1902) coined the term "zoonosis", and said "...between animal and human medicine there are no dividing lines – nor should there be". Canadian physician William Osler (1849–1919) traveled to Germany to study with Virchow. He returned to Canada and held joint faculty appointments at the McGill University Medical School and the Montreal Veterinary College.[6] Osler was active as a clinical pathologist and internist at the Montreal General Hospital, but was also active in the promotion of veterinary health, and helped investigate a swine typhoid outbreak near Quebec City in 1878;[7] he subsequently co-authored a monograph on parasites in Montreal's pork supply with A. W. Clement, a veterinary student at Montreal Veterinary College.[8]

In 1947, veterinarian James H. Steele furthered the concept in the U.S. by establishing the field of veterinary public health at the CDC.[9] The phrase "One Medicine" was developed and promoted by Calvin W. Schwabe (1927–2006), a veterinary epidemiologist and parasitologist in his textbook "Veterinary Medicine and Human Health".[10]

In 1996, Gary M. Tabor, Alonso Aguirre, Mary Pearl, David Sherman, Mark Pokras, Eric Chivian, Paul Epstein, and Gretchen Kauffman launched the Conservation Medicine: Ecological Health in Practice effort (Consortium for Conservation Medicine) with the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, Harvard Medical School’s Center for Health and the Global Environment, and EcoHealth Alliance (formerly Wildlife Trust), with an institutional focus linking human, animal, and ecological health.[11]

"One Health" was mentioned in a story about Ebola hemorrhagic fever on April 7, 2003, when Rick Weiss of the Washington Post quoted William Karesh as saying, "Human or livestock or wildlife health can't be discussed in isolation anymore. There is just one health. And the solutions require everyone working together on all the different levels."[12]

Learning Task[edit]

  • Analyse the Fukushima [Disaster Management|disaster] from the One Health perspective and create a Mindmap (e.g. with the OpenSource Tool Freemind) that shows the connectivity of environmental and public health factors.
  • Global warming leads to change of enviromental conditions. What is your hypothesis for vector-bourne diseases like Malaria, Dengue, Tick-borne diseases? How are your expectations about the epidemiological spread of the disease in North America? Can you find scientific evidence for your hypothesis? (Add examples to this learning resource, so that other learner can build on your work and check exisiting scientific evidence)
  • Analyse the requirements and constraints a mosquito life-cycle has according to the environmental conditions. Analyse climate change impact for the place you live. Do you have an expectation for the epidemiological spread for your area? What are your suggestions for [[Risk Management|risk mitigation strategies]?


  1. The American Veterinary Medical Association. One Health Initiative Task Force. "One Health: A New Professional Imperative". July 15, 2008. Accessed September 1, 2011.
  2. Original Work on Wikisource: "On Airs, Waters, and Places", Hypocrates -
  3. The Internet Classics Archive. Hippocrates. "On Airs, Waters, and Places". 400 BCE. Translated by Francis Adams. Accessed September 1, 2011.
  4. Drake D. A practical treatise on the history, prevention, and treatment of epidemic cholera, designed both for the profession and the people. Cincinnati, Corey and Fairbank, 1832.
  5. A. F. LaBerge. "Mission and Method. The Early Nineteenth-Century French Public Health Movement." Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1992.
  6. Kahn LH, Kaplan B, Steele JH. "Confronting zoonoses through closer collaboration between medicine and veterinary medicine (as 'one medicine'). Veterinaria Italiana 2007; 43(1): 5-19. Accessed September 1, 2011.
  7. Murphy, DA. Osler, now a veterinarian! Can Med Assoc J 1960 July 2; 83(1): 32–35.
  8. Osler W., Clement A. W. An investigation into the parasites in the pork supply of Montreal, 1883. Gazette Printing Company, Montreal.
  9. Waddy J. "Father of Veterinary Public Health Profiled in New Book." The University of Texas Health Sciences Center. August 14, 2009. Accessed September 1, 2011.
  10. Kass PH, McCapes RH, Pritchard WR. "In Memoriam. Calvin W. Schwabe. Professor Emeritus of Veterinary Epidemiology. Davis. 1927-2006. Accessed September 1, 2011.
  11. Aguirre, A. A., R. S. Ostfeld, G. M. Tabor, C. A. House and M. C. Pearl (eds.). 2002. Conservation Medicine: Ecological Health in Practice. Oxford University Press, New York, 407 pp; Tabor, G.M. 2002. Defining Conservation Medicine. In: Aguirre, A. A., R. S. Ostfeld, G. M. Tabor, C. A. House and M. C. Pearl (eds.). 2002. Conservation Medicine: Ecological Health in Practice. Oxford University Press, New York; Tabor, G.M., R.S. Ostfeld, M. Poss, A.P. Dobson, and A.A. Aguirre, 2001. Conservation Biology and the Health Sciences: Defining the Research Priorities of Conservation Medicine. In: M.E. Soulé and G.H. Orians, eds. Research Priorities in Conservation Biology. 2nd edition. Island Press; Washington, D.C.; Pokras M., G.M. Tabor, M. Pearl, D. Sherman and P. Epstein, 1999. Conservation Medicine: an emerging field. In Nature and human society: the quest for a sustainable world. National Academy Press. Washington, DC. pp: 551-556.
  12. Weiss, R. Africa's Apes Are Imperiled, Researchers Warn. The Washington Post. Apr. 7, 2003.