Swine Influenza > Prevention > Importance One Health

One Health

According to a definition of the World Health Organization (WHO) “One Health” is an approach to designing and implementing programmes, policies, legislation and research in which multiple sectors communicate and work together to achieve better public health outcomes.

The areas of work in which a One Health is particularly relevant include food safety, the control of zoonoses (diseases that can spread between animals and humans, such as flu, rabies and Rift Valley Fever), and combatting antibiotic resistance (when bacteria change after being exposed to antibiotics and become more difficult to treat)

The central idea of One Health approach is that health of humans and animals are closely linked and form a unity. Human health is directly linked to the health of animals and surrounding environment. A striking example: in the past decades the increase of swine population has been associated with an increased frequency of zoonotic influenza virus infections in humans (L.A. Reperant in Zoonoses - Infections Affecting Humans and Animals, Springer Verlag, 2015).

A great deal of infectious diseases have zoonotic potential, but in particular influenza A viruses are unique in many ways. They are unique in

  • the diversity of host species
  • their capacity to evolve and adapt
  • the frequency of inter-species transmission events

Viruses such as pdmH1N1(2009) reveal a potential cross-species transmission, either from humans to animals or vice versa from animals to humans.

In particular swine are thought to be “mixing vessels”. They are both susceptible to avian and mammalians influenza viruses.
As a result novel influenza viruses can be generated in pigs. This process is called reassortment which may lead to a potentially more virulent subtype. Ultimately there is a likelihood of transmission of these new viruses to humans.

Vaccination is one part of One Health strategy to reduce the emergence of new subtypes and to stop the cycle of transmission.

Importance of One-Health