VCT1302:             One-Health and All-Hazards: The New Environmental Health

Speaker:              Christopher Eddy, MPH, REHS / RS; Erik Balster

Are we doing everything needed to ensure true all-hazards preparedness? This session will focus on the role of environmental health professionals through the scope of One Health; the need to take the lead in developing “local up” sentinel event zoonotic disease reporting systems to enhance preparedness for novel pathogen-origin pandemics; and changing the present animal/human interface paradigms at community and residential levels.



In the 2011 World Health Organization critique of the first-ever implementation of the 2005 International Health Regulation, experts found that the world is inadequately prepared for H1N1 and lacking in capacity for novel pathogen-origin pandemics.  The authors of the 2012 Institute of Medicine Workshop publication state that the estimated global economic impact to cease SARS, H1N1, H5N1, and MRSA pandemics cost approximately $140,000,000,000.  As emerging infectious zoonotic disease increases, the authors propose a meaningful solution to this looming global health dilemma.


Literature reviews of scientific publications, private sector research, and statistics from global public health agencies were compiled into a survey representative of concerns about the public health workforce, public health outreach, and gaps in infectious disease surveillance and early event detection systems.  Environmental health professionals from the National Environmental Health Association and Ohio Association of Health Commissioners were surveyed using Turning Point software formats at both state and national education conferences.    


We find that there is a high level of agreement that zoonotic disease reporting systems are essential to public health preparedness because they enable the early detection and prediction of future pandemic events. Both groups of participants agree that existing zoonotic disease reporting systems are either non-existent or inadequate, and incapable of signaling the next pandemic event at early stages. Public health officials report that immunocompromised patients, specifically immunocompromised patients that own companion animals, may be adversely impacted by pandemic events.


Our research finds the need for true all-hazards preparedness utilizing One Health-oriented collaboration between environmental public health, veterinary and clinical partners through meaningful sentinel disease surveillance networks. To supplement needed zoonotic disease surveillance, the authors also advocate the establishment of expanded public health education guidance to include: animal/human restriction for immune-compromised and other vulnerable populations; enhanced public health outreach regarding personal hygiene; and avoidance strategies for community-acquired infectious disease that must be provided as early as possible to curtail community disease amplification of localized epidemics and potential pandemic events.