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"One Health Day" Helps Solve Health Challenges

Wednesday, November 01, 2017 | 04:58pm

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Health and Tennessee Department of Agriculture are working to raise awareness of the connections among human, animal and environmental health with observances of the second annual international “One Health Day” Nov. 3, 2017.  

The One Health concept recognizes the health of people, animals and the environment are all deeply connected. One Health Day highlights the need for a trans-disciplinary approach to solve critical global health challenges including emerging diseases, antimicrobial resistance, food safety, environmental pollution and many others.  

“Identifying diseases that affect animals and could impact humans and doing all we can to stop them in their tracks before that happens is important  to the One Health approach,” said TDH Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH. “We worked together to do this in a recent outbreak of avian flu in Tennessee, making sure the outbreak was stopped in poultry while at the same time protecting the humans involved from any opportunity to get the bird flu themselves, or mix a bird-type flu with a human flu virus.”  

“Tennessee practices the One Health approach with partners from multiple other agencies,” said TDH Deputy State Epidemiologist John Dunn, DVM, PhD. “Infectious disease threats are everywhere, and diseases know no borders. This One Health perspective is necessary to address the complexities of emerging diseases such as Zika and avian influenza.”  

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates six out of ten infectious diseases in people are spread from animals. Diseases spread from animals to humans are called zoonotic diseases and include rabies, Salmonella, West Nile virus, Campylobacter, Q fever and many others. For example, a recent large multistate outbreak of human Salmonella infections was linked to live poultry in backyard flocks; of 1,120 cases nationwide, 45 cases were identified in Tennessee.  

Many zoonotic diseases can be prevented through a number of healthy practices: 

  • Keeping hands clean through regular handwashing
  • Preventing mosquito, tick and flea bites 
  • Safe food handling
  • Practicing safe behaviors around pets and other animals.  

In Tennessee, a multidisciplinary One Health Committee was established in 2011. The committee includes members from the Tennessee Department of Health, Tennessee Department of Agriculture, Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and United States Department of Agriculture, who meet regularly to discuss One Health issues in Tennessee. These meetings provide a forum for members of state and federal agencies to share information on issues and projects regarding human, animal and environmental health and build relationships for multi-agency communication and collaboration. The committee has discussed issues such as highly pathogenic avian influenza, rabies, chronic wasting disease and the strategic national stockpile of medication to be used in the event of a public health emergency.  

“We are all in this together,” said Tennessee Department of Agriculture State Veterinarian Charles Hatcher, DVM. “Taking the One Health approach is the best way for stakeholders to address the health of people, animals and the environment in today’s world.” 

For more information about the Tennessee One Health Committee, please visit the TDH website at 

Originally launched in 2016 by the One Health Commission, One Health Initiative and One Health Platform Foundation, the initiative is now an annual, sustainable platform for worldwide One Health advocates. For additional general information about One Health, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention One Health website The official website for International One Health Day can be found at  

The mission of the Tennessee Department of Health is to protect, promote and improve the health and prosperity of people in Tennessee. TDH has facilities in all 95 counties and provides direct services for more than one in five Tennesseans annually as well as indirect services for everyone in the state, including emergency response to health threats, licensure of health professionals, regulation of health care facilities and inspection of food service establishments. Learn more about TDH services and programs at