News - April 30, 2020

Public health = animal health

Guido Camps

‘OneHealth’ was the big thing when I was still studying veterinary science. OneHealth refers to interdisciplinary collaboration to improve the health of people, animals and the environment. It was still a fairly theoretical concept back then though, with vets and doctors operating in separate worlds.

Guido Camps (36) is a vet and a postdoc at the Human Nutrition department. He enjoys baking, beekeeping and unusual animals.

But COVID-19 has shown are closely we are interlinked with animals and the ways in which we deal with them. This virus came from animals and it is expected that future pandemics will also be zoonoses (diseases that are transmitted from animals to humans).

In the past few weeks, the theoretical concept of OneHealth has taken on a much more practical form: vets discussed how they could make their face masks available as soon as possible for human healthcare and how many respiratory machines could be delivered to intensive care units in an emergency. Wageningen Bioveterinary Research and Royal GD, which are normally labs for animal diseases, adapted their labs in no time in the effort to scale up Dutch COVID-19 testing capacity.  

The relevance of an integrated approach to animal and human health was underlined once again this weekend. After pet cats and tigers, minks too were found to be infected on a Brabant farm. Clearly this epidemic cannot be defeated without looking at the interaction between people and animals. OneHealth will become the new standard in how we deal with our health and the environment — with a key role for WUR.