August 21, 2017
Student Post: Kate McConnell, Occupational Health at the Human-Animal Interface (OHHAI) Training Scholar at the University of Washington.
This summer, I am completing my MPH practicum as an intern with the Washington State Department of Agriculture’s (WSDA) Animal Services Division. WSDA receives reports from veterinarians and veterinary laboratories of diseases on the World Organization of Animal Health notifiable disease list, as well as other diseases considered reportable within the state of Washington (https://tinyurl.com/m7r44cj).
A number of these reportable animal diseases are zoonotic, meaning they normally exist in animals but may be transmitted to humans. Zoonoses are of general public health concern, but in particular threaten the health and wellbeing of animal workers (e.g. farmers, animal lab technicians, zoo and aquarium staff, veterinarians, etc.), who come into close contact with different animals on a regular basis.
To prevent both human and animal morbidity and mortality, animal health agencies must be able to conduct well-organized and accurate passive surveillance, to efficiently analyze existing zoonoses data, and to seamlessly share data with human health agencies.
To improve WSDA’s ability to do all of the above, I am developing a high-quality and user-friendly Microsoft Excel database, which I will then use to migrate all existing records of reportable animal diseases from paper to electronic form, and which WSDA will use to record all incoming reports in the future. The development of this database is part of a larger effort by the Washington State One Health Steering Committee (https://tinyurl.com/kyqdh5d) to integrate human, animal, and environmental health data in order to strengthen surveillance and disease prevention.