Towards Evolving One Health
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2015
Ursula Bechert, DVM, PhD
School of Arts and Sciences, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA


Urbanization, human encroachment on wildlife habitat, intensive agricultural practices, global transportation, pollution, climate change, and other challenges characterizing the Anthropocene, are altering the epidemiology and incidence of disease.12 Newly evolved pathogen strains, first-time infections in humans, or increased incidence due to environmental changes describe emerging infectious diseases,15 which have been increasing in incidence since 1940.8 Chaos theory studies the behavior of dynamic systems that are highly sensitive to initial conditions; aka the “butterfly effect” with many examples in nature.3 Populations need to be studied in relation to their interactions with ecological networks and biogeochemical processes, which are often highly complex.14 Awareness of the need for and how we go about conserving the earth’s biosphere has changed through time. The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation and One Health have deep historic roots, and there is a need for them to continue to evolve. The current approach to One Health has been very top-down, coordinated internationally by three organizations, and the One Health Commission leads national efforts.11 Thought should be given to the potential value of bottom-up approaches, centralized versus de-centralized models of organization, and better ways to connect veterinarians and conservationists with public health agencies.4,11 Science should inform policy; however, public perception plays an important role in the implementation of new policy.1,4,7,13 Because ∼70% of zoonotic diseases are of wildlife origin,8 there is potential for decreased interest in wildlife conservation among the public.4 Strategies to address public perception of risk can be developed by deepening our understanding of perceived risks.2,6,10,16 With additional training, veterinarians can engage in a broad range of activities under the One Health umbrella;5,9 play key roles in communication among domestic animal, human health, and wildlife conservation communities; and positively affect public policy.2

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Speaker Information
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Ursula Bechert, DVM, PhD
School of Arts and Sciences
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA, USA