One Health has gained an astonishing profile in the animal and public health, in part highlighting the issues of emerging infectious diseases in wildlife. Wildlife parasitology are now working with wildlife.
Wildlife parasitologists can offer insights into One Health, and likewise One Health is providing justification to study and research about wildlife parasites. But how can we decide which wildlife parasites are the One Health issues?
We have an example of toxoplasmosis in wildlife, that poses a risk to human health, and that also has potential to adversely affect wildlife populations which are under conservation projects that’s really a major concern and of importance for food security and cultural well-being.
This One Health framework can help the communities, researchers, and policymakers to prioritize the issues for action in the world where we have limited resources.
One Health is defined as a collaborative, multisectoral, and trans-disciplinary approach working at the local, regional, national, and global levels with the goal of achieving optimal health outcomes recognizing the interconnection between people, animals, plants, and their shared environment.
Despite its inclusiveness and interdisciplinary ethos, One Health, as currently practiced, almost exclusively involves the fields of veterinary medicine and public health, and this has led us to a focus on disease transmission at the animal/human interface, and less on the environmental and socioeconomic aspects.
Even within the health community, there remains ‘a disconnect between human health and One Health efforts that has often impeded the translation of One Health from concept to reality. To address the challenges posed by the environmental and socioeconomic determinants of health, including biodiversity loss, climate change,
Depletion of ecological services, conflicting resource uses and users, and an exponentially growing human population, we will need to engage a wider variety of potential collaborators in the environmental and social sciences.
These collaborators bring different perspectives to studying and solving complex problems at the interface of human, animal, and environmental health; this could perhaps best be accomplished by integrating or adapting concepts from Eco-health, with its foundation in environmental sustainability.
Wildlife Parasitology and One Health
Wildlife parasitology, with its ecological approach to the diversity and complexity of parasite transmission among host compartments, trophic levels, and the environment, together with recognition that many neglected parasitic diseases are tied to socioeconomic risk factors, applied One Health thinking long before the concept of One Health became popular.
Wildlife parasitologists have contributed greatly to integrative health research that crosses disciplinary boundaries; one of the world’s pre-eminent wildlife parasitologists. Wildlife parasitology has always recognized the importance of abiotic factors of the survival and development of environmental stages of parasites and impacts of climate change on host & parasite relationships have been recognized illustrating the relationship between Wildlife parasites and One Health.
Wildlife conservation and environmental sustainability have not often been the primary focus of One Health activities. Wildlife are frequently considered in One Health contexts as reservoirs of emerging diseases that threaten the wildlife conservation and environmental sustainability have not often been the primary focus of One Health activities.
Wildlife are frequently considered in One Health contexts as the major reservoirs of emerging diseases that threaten human health or food security, and not as fellow inhabitants of a changing environment with shared risks.
This has led to an anthropogenic, unidirectional concept of One Health (especially within human health) that has emphasized the flow, or spillover, of infectious diseases from animal sources to humans. Public perception of emerging diseases of wildlife, if not well tackled and communicated in a balanced manner, can pose a serious threat to wildlife conservation. Wildlife parasitology provides an evidence that parasites are natural parts of ecosystems.
An immense understanding of the fundamental ecological mechanisms may arise from applying methods and concepts from wildlife parasitology to other One Health problems. Parasites are everywhere in wildlife populations, and the presence of parasites does not necessarily mean that wildlife are unhealthy.
Parasites can serve as indicators of biodiversity and intact trophic relationships in healthy ecosystems. Understanding the ecological system, as well as the social framework and underlying risks, may help in deciding when and how to act in response to the detection of a parasite in wildlife.
One Health Umbrella
One Health is not only a framework for research & surveillance also takes action. In a world where resources are limited for scientific research and public health programming, One Health can give an appealing motivation and justification for studying and managing wildlife parasites. That’s why parasitologists are working under the umbrella of one health.
However, a few parasites have been the subject of One Health attention, in large part because of the focus on emerging diseases in which parasitic diseases are also included having public health or economic significance.
Here we are using the example of toxoplasmosis in wildlife in the sub-continent to propose a set of questions to help communities, researchers, and policymakers prioritize wildlife parasites from a One Health perspective.
Wildlife One Health & Humans
Zoonotic parasites in wildlife are obviously for One Health, however, this approach also considers the direction of transmission, up to how much extent humans are exposed, so here we have relative importance of wildlife as a source for transmission to humans.
Foe Example, all genotypes of Toxoplasma gondii are considered zoonotic. The zoonotic potential and pathogenicity of various strains of T. gondii common in wildlife is not well known, and virulence varies among the different genotypes.
There is evidence of extremely high levels of human exposure to T. gondii in numerous regions of the world. There are multiple routes of exposure possible for this parasite, including irreflective consumption of oocysts shed in the feces of felids, ingestion of tissue cysts in other infected intermediate vertebrate hosts, and congenital transmission.
Possible routes of transmission include oocysts shed in felid feces conducted via marine and freshwater routes from subarctic and temperate regions, trophic, and vertical routes of transmission.
Harvesting and consuming wildlife has been identified as a risk factor for exposure to toxoplasmosis in several epidemiological studies. In people, this parasite can cause flu-like illness and it also causes neurological signs in immunocompetent people in chronic cases.
The most severe manifestations of disease occur in immunocompromised people and women infected for the first-time during pregnancy, including miscarriage, stillbirths, and fetal deform- ties.
surveillance through the addition of toxoplasmosis to the list of diseases that are notifiable to public health authorities, now there is a lot of research on way for understanding the epidemiology of toxoplasmosis and many other parasites.
Authors: Hammad Ur Rehman Bajwa, Muhammad Kasib Khan, Muhammad Adnan Sabir Mughal, Wasim Yousaf
Department of Parasitology, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad