Importance of one health for COVID-19 and future pandemics


Wednesday marked the sixth annual One Health Day, a global campaign that highlights the need for a One Health approach to address common health threats by recognizing the interconnection between people, animals and our environment. This approach is more important than ever as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. The virus that causes COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, is a zoonotic virus, which means it can spread between humans and animals. As more animals are reported infected with the COVID-19 virus, it is becoming increasingly clear that a One Health approach is crucial in addressing emerging disease threats that affect both humans and animals.

More than 400 animals from 29 countries have been reported infected, including nearly 300 animals in the United States, as well as thousands of mink in mink farms in the United States and abroad. The virus has infected pets, wildlife, zoos, and production animals, including cats, dogs, tigers, lions, gorillas, white-tailed deer, mink, and others. Most of these animals became infected after coming into contact with people with COVID-19. Although animals do not appear to play a significant role in the spread of the virus among humans at this time, One Health surveys and animal surveillance are crucial in assessing the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 between humans and animals. This will increase our understanding of the range of animals that can be infected and the risks of potential establishment of new hosts and reservoirs where the virus could hide, mutate and potentially reappear as a new variant in the human population. CDC’s One Health office works to support One Health activities and improve coordination between sectors. To complement existing public health reporting systems, the CDC has developed a surveillance and reporting infrastructure to help local, state and federal partners capture important laboratory and epidemiological data on SARS-CoV-2 cases in animals linked to people with COVID-19.

One of the lessons learned from COVID-19 is that emerging zoonotic infectious diseases are here to stay and that tackling new disease threats such as COVID-19, Ebola and Zika requires One Health collaboration between health organizations. human, animal and environmental. More information on animals and COVID-19 can be found on the CDC website and more information on the work of the CDC One Health is available on the One Health page.

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