One Health Newsletter Veterinary Public Health (VPH) Special PRIMARY Interest Group (SPIG) Of The American Public Health Association (APHA)

2020 APHA Annual Meeting Preview

By Stephanie Masiello, VPH Program Chair

This year, the APHA Annual Meeting and Expo 2020 will take place virtually on October 24-28, 2020. This year’s theme is "Creating the Healthiest Nation: Preventing Violence". In this time of a global pandemic, the APHA Veterinary Public Health Special Interest Group (VPH SPIG) (dedicated to promoting the importance of improving human, animal, plant and environmental health through an interdisciplinary, One Health approach) is proud to highlight the important, valuable work of VPH SPIG members and colleagues who strive to advance and improve our knowledge of a One Health world.

At this year’s conference, the VPH posters and sessions focus on the role of veterinary public health in environmental, occupational, and epidemiological One Health issues. To see the full VPH program, please visit our online program. The tab on the left of the page will allow you to identify all VPH-organized sessions (All eligible for RACE veterinary credits), as well as those sessions organized by other sections which were endorsed by the VPH (also eligible for RACE veterinary credits).

Below are VPH highlights (and session numbers) to keep in mind as you explore and learn at this year’s meeting:

Sunday October 25th:

Be sure to “stop by” the numerous posters from diverse colleagues relating to how Veterinary Public Health supports One Health Issues (2047.0). Posters are pre-recorded and will be available on demand throughout the conference, so please use the listed session timeframe in the program (2:00- 3:00 pm MT) as a suggestion. These posters include a wide variety of pertinent topics such as examining opioid prescribing practices in veterinarians, spatiotemporal dynamics of emerging hotspots of West Nile Virus risk in California, considerations for the optimal implementation of FDA’s antibiotic resistance initiatives, and integrating satellite data to strengthen One Health surveillance of emerging infectious diseases.

After you browse the posters, all members and anyone else interested are very welcome to attend the Veterinary Public Health SPIG Business Meeting (328.0) from 2:00 – 4:00 pm MT and provide input on what topics and actions you would like to see come out of this group in the future.

Monday October 26th:

In the afternoon, we will have our two live VPH oral presentation sessions on One Health and emerging diseases issues. The first session (3230.0; 1:00-2:30 pm MT) will focus on how Veterinary Public Health supports One Heath issues. Colleagues will share their work highlighting topics including vaccine hesitancy among companion animal owners, veterinarian involvement in zoonotic disease prevention practices, and One Health communication engagement with farmers.

The second afternoon session (3316.0; 3:00-4:30 pm MT) will focus on the One Health surveillance of emerging zoonoses, vector-borne diseases, and the link to ecosystem change. This session is endorsed by the International Health and Epidemiology APHA Sections. Presentations will range from looking back at 20 years in vaccine preventable disease surveillance in Ethiopia to discussing effects of tick surveillance education among local health department employees.

VPH-Endorsed Sessions

Below please find a list of live presentation sessions endorsed by the VPH SPIG this year that you may want to consider adding to your virtual program:

  • 3124.0 – Emerging Infectious Diseases
  • 3210.0 – The COVID-19 Pandemic: Impact of Containment and Mitigation Polices and Programs on Health and Non-Health Sectors
  • 4133.0 – The COVID-19 Pandemic in China and East Asia
  • 5072.0 – Infectious Disease Epidemiology
  • 5084.0 – The COVID-19 Pandemic in Low- and Middle-Income Countries

We hope that the VPH SPIG programs this year will provide all members with new ideas, new challenges, and new excitement. We look forward to connecting and collaborating with you virtually!

“Listen! The wind is rising, and the air is wild with leaves, We have had our summer evenings, now for October eves!”

Humbert Wolfe

A Pandemic Urges a Place for Animal Welfarism in the Public Health Sphere

By Sejal Shah and Praveen Varanasi, VPH Supporters

The emergence of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has fundamentally changed human society over the past year. In addressing the consequences of the pandemic, we must reexamine our relationship with animals. With 75% of new infectious diseases and 60% of known diseases associated with a zoonotic origin, human-animal interactions are the most substantial contributors to human illness and disease transmission (Salyer et al., 2017). Increased zoonotic transmission in recent years has been attributed to the global increase in domesticated animals and accelerated habitat destruction and trade of exotic animals.

One Health tackles the problem at hand with an intersectional approach

The public health community must provide additional resources to impoverished communities to mitigate zoonotic disease transmission. Due to their increased exposure to livestock and less distinguished boundaries with nature, rural communities have a higher susceptibility to zoonotic transmission than urban communities. As fewer healthcare resources accompany this increased risk of disease, these rural communities suffer from delayed identification of the disease and an accelerated spread (Grace et al., 2017). Without addressing this poverty trap, zoonotic disease transmission will continue disproportionately affecting the poor and create additional risks of a pandemic.

The animal agricultural industry is a breeding ground for zoonotic diseases

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified the dangers of animal agriculture to public health. It outlines the need for states and the federal government to regulate the production and sale of animal products, such as required pasteurization for the sale of cow’s milk. Without proper adherence and stricter enforcement of these regulations, zoonotic diseases will continue to emerge, such as the Brucella bacteria strains from unpasteurized cow’s milk (Mungai et al., 2015). In 2017, the CDC has developed the One Health Zoonotic Disease Prioritization Tool (OHZDP) to help identify and track emerging diseases. It also designed educational seminars to raise awareness of the dangers of zoonotic transmission in rural communities. While these efforts are encouraging, they fail to address the underlying root of disease transmission: the continuing expansion of animal agriculture.

The animal agricultural system that kills 72 billion land animals each year introduces an array of ethical, environmental, and health consequences. Apart from fueling the public health crises of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes, meat consumption consistently leads to the proliferation of infectious diseases, including avian and swine influenzas, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), Ebola virus, and the Nipah virus. Furthermore, the overuse of antibiotics within factory farms has led to increased antimicrobial resistance, weakening the potency of our strongest medicines against bacterial infections (Prestinaci et al., 2015). Public health crises are compounded when bacterial infections such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) emerge from our factory farms, bolstering zoonotic transmission and stripping away our ability to fight disease.

Destroying wildlife has far-reaching effects than even imaginable

In recognition of current global health efforts to combat COVID-19 transmission and prevent future pandemics, the role of zoonotic disease transmission must be at the forefront of the national and international dialogues. The OHZDP tool has the potential to expand additional measures of animal welfare ethics and principles of sustainability. Without an increased emphasis on ecosystems and human-animal interactions, society will likely continue to face pandemics. Therefore, in complying with its “One Health” approach, the American Public Health Association should expand its scope to include animal welfare and increased regulation of animal agriculture. If every corner of the world was impacted by COVID-19, then the response to accurately fight such global issues requires a deeper look at the triage between the environment, animals, and humans.


American Public Health Association. (2017). Advancing a 'One Health' Approach to promote health at the human-animal-environment interface. Retrieved May 26, 2020, from https://www.apha.org/policies-and-advocacy/public-health-policy-statements/policy-database/2018/01/18/advancing-a-one-health-approach

Grace, D., Lindahl, J., Wanyoike, F., Bett, B., Randolph, T., & Rich, K. M. (2017). Poor livestock keepers: Ecosystem-poverty-health interactions. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences, 372(1725), 20160166.

Mungai, E. A., Behravesh, C. B., & Gould, L. H. (2015). Increased outbreaks associated with nonpasteurized milk, United States, 2007-2012. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 21(1), 119–122. https://doi.org/10.3201/eid2101.140447

Prestinaci, F., Pezzotti, P., & Pantosti, A. (2015). Antimicrobial resistance: A global multifaceted phenomenon. Pathogens and Global Health, 109(7), 309–318.

Salyer, S. J., Silver, R., Simone, K., & Barton Behravesh, C. (2017). Prioritizing zoonoses for global health capacity building – Themes from One Health Zoonotic Disease Workshops in 7 countries, 2014-2016. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 23(13), S55–S64.

“He found himself wondering at times, especially in the autumn, about the wild lands, and strange visions of mountains that he had never seen came into his dreams.”

J.R.R. Tolkien

Equine Assisted Therapy (EAT) with Breast Cancer Survivors: A Win/Win One Health Solution

By Jill Johns, VPH Supporter

It is estimated that in the United States alone, over 100,000 unwanted horses are relinquished annually due to “financial hardship, physical inability, or lack of time to care for the horses by owners” (Holcomb et al., 2010). Furthermore, improper medical care provided to the horses by the owners has resulted in disparate health issues. “Compared with the general US equine population, relinquished horses had a greater incidence of injuries or wounds (22 vs. 5% general population), lameness (17 vs. 3%), skin problems (11 vs. 1%), and chronic BW loss (3 vs. 0.2%)” (Holcomb et al., 2010). Nonprofit equine organizations throughout the country make valiant efforts to rescue these horses to avoid their slaughter, but the maximum capacity of those organizations is only about 14,000 horses nationwide (Holcomb et al., 2010).

As of January 1, 2019, there were 3,861,520 breast cancer survivors in the United States (Miller et al, 2019). According to the Institute for Health Research and Policy (IHRP), disparities exist in medically underserved areas (MUAs) wherein women experience disparities at almost every step in the cancer process, including prevention, detection, treatment, and survival (IHRP, 2019). The quality of life of socioeconomically-deprived female breast cancer survivors in rural, medically underserved areas is disproportionately lower than their urban and suburban counterparts.

Breast cancer survivors (Left to right): Susan Jackson, Robyn Axce and Janet Robinson. Photo credit: Jill Johns

Adoption of evidence-based quality of life enhancement interventions in rural communities for breast cancer survivors could have a significant impact on population health and the reduction of health disparities given that according to the United States Census Bureau data, in 2010, 59 million people, or 17% of the US population, live in rural or remote communities. Equine-assisted therapy (EAT) “include(s) the presence of a horse, a human who is capable of interaction with the horse without illness or injury, a facilitator for direction and interpretation, and a goal of a positive health outcome” (White-Lewis, 2020).

Working with the horses in the Leatherwood Mountains of North Carolina. Photo credit: Jill Johns

For breast cancer survivors, “the psychosocial effects of EAT include improved self‐esteem, self‐confidence, empowerment, a sense of self‐presence, and feelings of freedom, independence and competency” (White-Lewis, 2020, 62). For the horses, while it is challenging to measure overall well-being, research regarding the animal benefits of EAT have shown these activities are minimally stressful and could produce positive outcomes or emotions in the horses (Mendonça et al, 2019, 409). While more research is necessary to truly determine the impact that EAT has in equine health and well-being, the utilization of rescue horses in this arena has the ability to provide win/win outcomes for both the breast cancer survivors and the horses.

Breast cancer survivors (Left to right): Susan Jackson, Robyn Axce and Janet Robinson Location: Leatherwood Mountains, Ferguson, North Carolina. Photo credit: Jill Johns

In 2017, I co-facilitated a retreat for breast cancer survivors utilizing two rescued thoroughbred racing horses. That experience left a profound impact on me as an animal-lover and breast cancer survivor.


Hashibe, M., Kirchhoff, A. C., Kepka, D., Kim, J., Miller, M., Sweeney, C., Herget, K., Monroe, M., Henry, N. L., Lopez, A., & Mooney, K. (2018). Disparities in cancer survival and incidence by metropolitan versus rural residence in Utah. Cancer Medicine, 7(4), 1490-1497.

Holcomb, K. E., Stull, C. L., & Kass, P. H. (2010). Unwanted horses: The role of nonprofit equine rescue and sanctuary organizations. Journal of Animal Science, 88(12), 4142-4150.

Institute for Health Research and Policy. (2019). Patient navigation in medically underserved areas. Retrieved from https://www.ihrp.uic.edu/study/patient-navigation-medically-underserved-areas

Mendonça, T., Bienboire-Frosini, C., Menuge, F., Leclercq, J., Lafont-Lecuelle, C., Arroub, S., & Pageat, P. (2019). The impact of equine-assisted therapy on equine behavioral and physiological responses. Animals, 9(7), 409.

Miller, K. D., Nogueira, L., Mariotto, A. B., Rowland, J. H., Yabroff, K. R., Alfano, C. M., Jemal, A., Kramer, J. L., & Siegel, R. L. (2019). Cancer treatment and survivorship statistics, 2019. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, 69(5). 363-385.

National Cancer Institute (n.d.). Retrieved on June 14, 2020 from https://www.cancer.gov/publications/dictionaries/cancer-terms/def/survivorship

White-Lewis, S. (2020). Equine‐assisted therapies using horses as healers: A concept analysis. Nursing Open, 7(1), 58-67.

“That country where it is always turning late in the year. That country where the hills are fog and the rivers are mist; where noons go quickly, dusks and twilights linger, and midnights stay. That country composed in the main of cellars, sub-cellars, coal-bins, closets, attics, and pantries faced away from the sun. That country whose people are autumn people, thinking only autumn thoughts. Whose people passing at night on the empty walks sound like rain.”

— Ray Bradbury

Palm Oil in Indonesia and One Health

By Mariana Felix-Kim, VPH Supporter

The palm oil industry is an example of exploiting natural resources for economic growth. In order to produce palm oil, farmers introduce the slash and burn practice, where a small patch of vegetation is removed (“slash”), and then fire (“burn”) clears the remaining vegetation. These fires can affect respiratory health of humans and reduce animal habitats, affecting ecosystem health and vulnerable communities living in marginalized geographic areas. Using the example of Indonesia, the country supplied 52% of the world’s palm oil in 2018 (Ministry of Industry (Indonesia), 2015), a common ingredient in food and personal care products.

A local from the outskirts of Palangkaraya city, Central Kalimantan attempts to put out the fire Photograph: Bay Ismoyo/AFP/Getty Images

Air pollution increases as the smoke plumes of burning biomass release particulate matter into the atmosphere. Particulate matter can travel deep into the lungs and even pass through the bloodstream to affect other organs. Poor air quality can affect vulnerable populations including pregnant women and children. One study reported that exposure to the Indonesian wildfire led to more than 15,600 child, infant, and fetal deaths (Lo Bue, 2020). Wind can also carry particulate matter to other countries, which resulted in 100,300 premature deaths across Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore in 2015 (Koplitz, et al., 2016).

Orangutang displaced by forest fire Photograph: Getty Images: Barcraft Media

The palm oil industry in Indonesia targets local peatlands because the dry underground peat deposits provide an inexhaustible supply of fuel (Dennis et al., 2019). Peatlands are valuable as it takes about 10,000 years for the organic material to accumulate naturally under waterlogged conditions and can act as carbon sinks (Watts et al., 2019). As the forest fires release greenhouse gases, carbon sinks become even more critical for carbon dioxide removal to slow down the effects of climate change. The loss of peatlands has many negative implications, such as accelerating climate change and habitat loss, which can lead to endangered species. The fires from palm oil plantations continue to impact wildlife, indigenous communities, urban populations, and surrounding countries.

Moving forward, some solutions in Indonesia have been implemented to modify practices and mitigate risk to human, animal, and environmental health. First, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) was established in 2004, by a collective of global industry representatives and civil society groups. This market-based mechanism provided an incentive for any company and producer to improve their practices and promote the use of sustainable palm oil products through credible global standards and engagement of stakeholders (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, n.d.). Second, the Fire Free Village Program was launched in 2015, by the Asia Pacific Resources International Holdings Ltd (APRIL) group (Riau, Indonesia), to provide incentives to reduce forest fires in local villages (Watts et al., 2019). No Burn Village Rewards were awarded to village communities under the condition that fires do not occur within the village boundaries during the dry period, usually from July to October (Watts et al., 2019). Hence, these two solutions have already produced results by encouraging palm oil manufacturers to meet stringent sustainable criteria set by RSPO Principles and Criteria Certification (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, n.d.) for sustainable palm oil production by accredited certifying bodies. They have also strengthened professional relationships and connections working with local communities to decrease forest fires for financial awards. The combination of these two practical solutions enhance regulatory measures for the palm oil industry in Indonesia as well as offer an opportunity for farmers to connect with industry stakeholders to collaborate in protection of environmental and human health.


Normile, D. (2019, October 02). Indonesia's fires are bad, but new measures prevented them from becoming worse. Retrieved from https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/10/indonesias-fires-are-bad-new-measures-prevented-them-becoming-worse

Koplitz, S. N., Mickley, L. J., Marlier, M. E., Buonocore, J. J., Kim, P. S., Liu, T., ..., Myers, S. S. (2016). Public health impacts of the severe haze in Equatorial Asia in September–October 2015: Demonstration of a new framework for informing fire management strategies to reduce downwind smoke exposure. Environmental Research Letters, 11(9), 094023.

Lo Bue, M. C. (2020, April 29). Indonesia's huge fires and toxic haze will cause health problems for years to come. Retrieved from https://theconversation.com/indonesias-huge-fires-and-toxic-haze-will-cause-health-problems-for-years-to-come-124556

Ministry of Industry (Indonesia). (2015). Indonesia’s sectoral export. Retrieved from http://www.kemenperin.go.id/statistik/peran.php?ekspor=1

Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. (n.d.). Certification. Retrieved from https://www.rspo.org/resources/certification

Watts, J. D., Tacconi, L., Hapsari, N., Irawan, S., Sloan, S., & Widiastomo, T. (2019). Incentivizing compliance: Evaluating the effectiveness of targeted village incentives for reducing burning in Indonesia. Forest Policy and Economics, 108, 101956.

“The leaves fall, the wind blows, and the farm country slowly changes from the summer cottons into its winter wools.”

Henry Besten

VPH Member Spotlight: Meet a VPH Communications Committee Member!

Special Guest: Helena Chapman, VPH Communications Committee Member

Meet Dr. Helena Chapman. Photo credit: Helena Chapman.

Dr. Helena Chapman, originally from Florida, obtained her MPH (Epidemiology) and PhD in Public Health (One Health) from the University of Florida and MD from the Iberoamerican University in the Dominican Republic. Her passion in community health inspired her to learn more about the determinants of health that influence risk associated with dengue transmission in Cuba, Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico. As she pursued her medical education, she was enthusiastic to strengthen health professions education to better understand and mitigate environmental health risks across all communities. She was founding member and serves as current advisor of the first Dominican Republic (non-governmental) medical student organization (Organización Dominicana de Estudiantes de Medicina, ODEM), with the primary mission to strengthen medical students’ collaborations focusing on leadership, research, and health education outreach across Dominican Republic communities. These efforts motivated her to pursue her doctoral studies, where she focused on examining the “knowledge-action” gap among health care workers regarding adherence to tuberculosis infection control measures in tertiary-level health institutions in the Dominican Republic. Following her doctoral studies, she completed her AAAS Science & Technology Policy fellowship in the NASA Applied Sciences Program, where she now serves as Associate Program Manager for Health and Air Quality Applications (Booz Allen Hamilton). In this focus area, her team promotes the use of Earth observation data in One Health applications, related to air quality management and infectious disease prevention and control.

Question 1) How did you first get interested in One Health/Veterinary Public Health as a concept?

I have always been passionate about community health education – from volunteering with veteran patients at the Veterans Health Administration, conducting community fieldwork related to dengue prevention and control in the Dominican Republic, and leading health outreach activities to marginalized communities in the United States and the Dominican Republic. Through these community activities, I directly observed how the social determinants of health can influence physical and psychosocial health outcomes. As I learned about the One Health concept in my doctoral program at the University of Florida, I realized that the emerging global health threats that impact the aquatic, atmospheric, and terrestrial ecosystems will require robust, transdisciplinary collaborations to develop potential solutions and mitigate risk to vulnerable communities. Remembering the words of Albert Einstein – “To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science” – I continue to reflect on the importance of innovative collaborations to advance scientific inquiry and discovery in One Health.

Dr. Chapman led a community education session on dengue prevention in the Dominican Republic. Photo credit: Dr. Fidelia Oviedo

Question 2) What is your favorite part about working in One Health?

I am enthusiastic about collaborating with colleagues working in One Health across an array of disciplines. These collaborations can encourage shared learning, foster creativity, and advance scientific inquiry to address emerging health risks. By highlighting the value of innovative data and tools – like Earth observation data – our traditional public health toolkit and community fieldwork applications can examine the wider dimensions of the human-animal-environment nexus.

Dr. Chapman presents the One Health concept to ODEM members. Photo credit: ODEM

Question 3) As a communications committee member of VPH, what are some of your goals for this year?

Over this upcoming year, I am excited to collaborate with the VPH Communications Committee and encourage APHA VPH members and supporters to share their One Health leadership with the wider VPH community through conference presentations, publication opportunities, and professional networking. Since our VPH members and supporters work across an array of disciplines – clinical care, community health, education, policy, and research – their One Health experiences are key to leverage expertise, inspire colleagues, and offer innovative analyses to complex scientific challenges.

Dr. Chapman promotes the value of integrating Earth observation data for One Health applications. Photo credit: Dr. Caitlin Rublee

Question 4) Do you have any words of advice for members wanting to be more active in the group or in One Health, in general?

Together, we can collaborate to identify knowledge gaps and develop innovative solutions that advance scientific inquiry and discovery in One Health. Please join our APHA VPH community and submit your conference abstracts on timely One Health topics in your discipline. We encourage you to share your experiences in our APHA VPH One Health Newsletter and be a One Health change agent!

The VPH SPIG is appreciative of your time and service to the VPH SPIG, Dr. Chapman. Thank you for all that you do!

“The tints of autumn...a mighty flower garden blossoming under the spell of the enchanter, frost.”

― John Greenleaf Whittier

One Health in Action: In the Lab at Auburn University

By Andrea Perkins, VPH Member

Although my current faculty position at Auburn University is in a veterinary teaching hospital, my infection prevention career actually started in human hospitals. As an undergraduate student, like many students, I juggled a couple of part-time jobs to get by. Those two jobs happened to be working as an assistant in the infection control department of a human hospital and at a local veterinary clinic. After undergrad, I took on a more permanent infection prevention role in a human medical setting. That is where my interest in One Health began.

Staphylococcus pseudintermedius growing on a blood agar plate · Image taken by Andrea Perkins

I noticed dramatic differences in infection prevention practices in human versus animal healthcare settings. With knowledge that the majority of well-established and emerging infectious diseases are transmitted between animals and people (in both directions) I found it perplexing why infection prevention practices were emphasized so much more the human hospital settings. This led me to pursue a Masters in Public Health with a focus on infectious disease epidemiology, a PhD in Veterinary Science focused on veterinary infection control, and now a career in veterinary infection prevention which is informed and inspired by my experience as a human infection preventionist.

Dr. Perkins sampling a veterinary examination table to test for the presence of MRSP · Image taken by Silas Zee, Video & Photography, College of Veterinary Medicine, Auburn University

My research thus far has focused on the role humans play in transmission of a predominantly animal pathogen called methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus pseudintermedius (MRSP), which I like to describe as the ‘dog equivalent’ to methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus pseudintermedius is a commensal opportunistic bacterium that colonizes the skin and mucous membranes of companion animals (mainly dogs) and can cause infections in various body locations; it is transmitted via direct or indirect contact. Many public health professionals are familiar with MRSA as a multi-drug resistant bacterium responsible for hospital-associated infections in people, but fewer are aware that their canine companions are affected by a similar bacterium and may be at risk for exposure to MRSP and many other germs that can potentially cause infection during routine veterinary hospital visits.

Dr. Perkins sampling a predominantly human hand-contact surface to test for the presence of MRSP. Animal patients would be unlikely to touch surfaces such as door handles so MRSP contamination would likely be a result of human hand contamination. Improved hand hygiene and/or cleaning and disinfection could decrease contamination on these types of surfaces and reduce opportunity for healthcare worker hands to act as MRSP transmission vehicles between patients and other surfaces. · Image taken by Silas Zee, Video & Photography, College of Veterinary Medicine, Auburn University

My research has found that MRSP is present at high levels in small animal primary care hospital environments and that even though people only carry MRSP transiently, hand-contact surfaces (surfaces that animals would be very unlikely to come into direct contact with such as light switches and computer keyboards) were contaminated with MRSP just as frequently as common animal-contact surfaces (exam tables, floors) (Perkins, et al., 2020). These findings suggest veterinary healthcare workers in small animal primary care hospitals may not be practicing proper hand hygiene and/or cleaning and disinfection of the hospital environment. This actually made sense given the knowledge that hands of healthcare workers are major transmission vehicles for bacteria that cause healthcare-associated infections in people and that hand hygiene compliance among healthcare workers is generally fairly low, especially in veterinary settings. Additionally, when we assessed genotypes (bacterial fingerprints) of the MRSP isolates recovered from several different small animal primary care hospitals we found that individual hospitals tended to have unique endemic strains of MRSP prevalent throughout the hospital environment, but identical strains were not found between any two hospitals. These findings suggest widespread transmission of MRSP from a single source throughout the hospital environment. These results are concerning because theoretically, hands of healthcare workers could act as vehicles for transmission of MRSP (and potentially other germs) to veterinary patients.

Dr. Perkins sampling a predominantly human hand-contact surface to test for the presence of MRSP. Animal patients would be unlikely to touch surfaces such as door handles so MRSP contamination would likely be a result of human hand contamination. Improved hand hygiene and/or cleaning and disinfection could decrease contamination on these types of surfaces and reduce opportunity for healthcare worker hands to act as MRSP transmission vehicles between patients and other surfaces. · Image taken by Silas Zee, Video & Photography, College of Veterinary Medicine, Auburn University

Such findings have inspired follow-up research projects to test whether evidence-based intervention strategies that have been proven successful in human hospitals can also be successful in veterinary hospitals at improving infection prevention knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors and whether such interventions have an effect on the level of environmental contamination. In the long run, I hope my work helps bridge the gap that exists between infection prevention in human and animal medicine and helps keep both human and animal patients healthy and safe.


Perkins AV, Sellon DC, Gay JM, Lofgren ET, Moore DA, Jones LP, Davis MA. Prevalence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus pseudintermedius on hand-contact and animal-contact surfaces in companion animal community hospitals. Can Vet J. 2020 Jun;61(6):613-620. PMID: 32675813; PMCID: PMC7238483.

“I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion.”

― Henry David Thoreau

Upcoming Events


COVID-19 Conversations, Webinars from APHA and National Academy of Medicine (Ongoing)

Confronting Urgent Threats to Human Health & Society: COVID-19 and Climate Change, National Academy of Medicine, October 17-19, 2020

APHA 2020 Annual Meeting, Virtual, October 24-28, 2020


World One Health Congress, Virtual, October 30-November 3, 2020

One Health Day, November 3, 2020

Anthropology and One Health in Natural History, OHSS Webinar, November 10, 2020


Many events globally have been cancelled or rescheduled due to COVID-19. We will provide the latest rescheduled dates in a future newsletter.

The Veterinary Public Health SPIG is looking for ways to better serve and engage our members. We would greatly appreciate your feedback on the VPH Membership Engagement Survey found here. Completing this short, 5-minute survey will help us set our goals for the remaining half of the year. Thank you to all members who have already participated! The survey closes soon, so be sure to have your voice heard!

"Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude. Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness. Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts."

 David O. McKay

Get Involved with the VPH SPIG!

Join us.

We would love for you to get involved! Please consider becoming a member of the largest public health association in the United States to contribute expertise and help guide practice and policy change. Select the 'Veterinary Public Health Special Primary Interest Group' as one of your sections when signing up at the link below.

Make a Donation.

The APHA VPH group accepts donations to support our outreach programs at the Annual Meeting to help amplify our positive impact. Thank you in advance for donating!

Stay Connected.

The Veterinary Public Health One Health Newsletter is a quarterly publication for APHA's Veterinary Public Health Special Primary Interest Group. Are you involved in a One Health-related program or activity at home or abroad? Does it complement our focus to bring awareness to the human-animal-environment connection and advance the One Health concept? If so, we want to share your story via our newsletter and social media sites! Please contact us at aphavph(at)gmail(dot)com for more information. Thank you for reading!


Created with images by Jon Tyson - "untitled image" • Lyndon Li - "Maple" • Jakob Owens - "Autumn leaves" • Joanna Kosinska - "untitled image" • Micah Hallahan - "Farm fence" • Jeremy Thomas - "untitled image" • Chris Liu-Beers - "Juniata River at Sunrise; Newport, Pennsylvania, United States" • Tereza Hošková - "This photo is from our autumn walk with my Nova scotia duck tolling retriever Wicky." • Pro Church Media - "Thankful"