Outbreaks of zoonotic diseases pose a challenge for field epidemiologists and other responders. Simultaneous illness and deaths in people and animals require a coordinated response between public health, animal health and environmental health agencies, but most public health epidemiologists receive very little training in how to work effectively across disciplines and sectors to achieve disease control. As a result, opportunities for effective disease prevention and control are often missed. Given that 70% of emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic, it is vital that field epidemiologists are familiar with One Health principles and practice.
Ausvet and the Australian National University (ANU), who run Australia’s field epidemiology training program (FETP), have been contracted by TEPHINET, a program of the Task Force for Global Health, to develop a One Health case study based on an outbreak of anthrax in people and cattle in Uganda. The case study will be made available to FETPs around the world through TEPHINET. Last week, Ausvet and ANU piloted this case study with 27 FETP scholars in Delhi, India. Despite the high prevalence of zoonotic diseases such as rabies, anthrax, brucellosis and leptospirosis, most of the medically-trained Indian FETP scholars said that they rarely had the opportunity to interact with animal health practitioners as part of their work. Many scholars and facilitators (FETP alumni) commented that the pilot case study was their first formal training in One Health, and were looking forward to implementing One Health principles in their future work.
FETP scholars interpreting anthrax epidemic curves during the One Health case study pilot in Delhi.