Bats, Ducks, and Pandemics: An Introduction to One Health Policy

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  • Getting Started. One Health, Public Health, Basic Epidemiology
    • Public health examines the health of populations. Public health professionals rely on epidemiology, the collection, and analysis of health data from groups of individuals, to determine which diseases are causing the most problems and require governmental interventions. The One Health concept recognizes that human health relies on healthy animals, environments, and ecosystems. Integrating the One Health concept into public health requires the inclusion of health data from animals, such as pets, livestock, and wildlife, as well as environmental data, such as air and water quality. In this week’s sessions, we will briefly discuss public health, epidemiology, and One Health.
  • Public Policy, Environmental and Ecosystem Health, National Governments, International Organizations
    • A nation’s constitution determines its government’s structure, function, and funding. Public health and One Health are inherently governmental responsibilities since they benefit entire populations. Public policy is the study of what governments do or don’t do regarding specific issues. Environmental health focuses on the non-living (i.e. air, water, and soil) aspects of specific geographic areas. Ecosystem health, in contrast, examines the interactions between living organisms with each other within a specific environment. This week’s sessions will discuss public policy, the differences between environmental and ecosystem health, and the structure and function of national governments and international organizations relevant to implementing One Health nationally and globally.
  • Human Nutrition, Basic Microbiology, Food Safety, Food Security
    • “You are what you eat!” said Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, a French lawyer, and gastronome in the early 19th century. The importance of good nutrition is essential for health and well-being. We must learn that when we eat, we feed not only ourselves but our microbes as well. Microbes including bacteria and viruses play an important role in human and animal health, but some also cause disease. Food must be free of contaminating microbes and substances in order to be safe for consumption. Agriculture is the foundation of civilization because it provides a relatively secure food supply. Agriculture is both threatened by and contributes to climate change. This week’s sessions will discuss basic nutrition and microbiology as well as food safety and food security.
  • Examining Leadership, Corruption, Communication, and Healthcare Access
    • Who’s in charge matters when responding to deadly epidemics. Decision-making, or the lack thereof, can make the difference between life or death. Political and public health leaders must develop good working relationships in order to develop effective policies during public health crises. They must be able to communicate well, and they must not be corrupt. Corruption undermines public trust and jeopardizes health. For a government to be prepared for any public health threat, quality healthcare must be accessible to all. This week’s lectures will discuss political and public health leadership, corruption, communication, and healthcare access.
  • Antimicrobials: Antibiotics, Antimicrobial Resistance, Bacteriophages, Vaccines and Antivirals
    • Antibiotics are the foundation of modern medicine. Without safe and effective antibiotics, many modern therapies such as elective surgeries become too dangerous to do because the risk for infections becomes too high. Many microbes share resistance genes enabling them to evade antibiotics. Worsening antimicrobial resistance threatens the practice of modern medicine. Bacteriophages are tiny viruses that are the natural foes of bacteria. They are highly specific and challenging to use as antibacterial agents; nevertheless, they might serve as important alternatives or adjuncts to treat antibiotic-resistant bacteria. In contrast to bacteria, viruses are technically not alive and cannot be killed. Therefore, antiviral agents work by blocking viral activities such as entering cells and hijacking cellular machinery to make new viruses. Vaccines are typically made from pieces of dead bacteria, inactivated viruses, or genetically engineered proteins that mimic bacterial or viral proteins. Vaccines work by providing target practice for the host’s immune system, enabling it to prevent invading microbes from causing disease. This week’s sessions will discuss antibiotics, antimicrobial resistance, bacteriophages, antiviral agents, and vaccines.
  • Containing Disease Outbreaks, Prion Diseases, Bacterial Diseases and Viral Diseases
    • Containing disease outbreaks requires a variety of responses including epidemiologic investigations, widespread testing, contact tracing, quarantine, isolation, and if available, administration of medications and vaccines. Effective public communication and trust are essential. Many of the disease outbreaks that are spreading into human populations come from animals and are either directly or indirectly related to agriculture. Response strategies depend upon the type of microbes such as bacteria, viruses, or prions causing the outbreaks. This final week’s sessions will discuss containing disease outbreaks as well as examining public health crises caused by different microbes: prions, bacteria (i.e. Q fever), and viruses (i.e. Influenza and Ebola). For the COVID-19 pandemic caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, there will be readings and discussion questions, but no video at this time.