October 01, 2012


 Stepping up to one-health challenge

Twenty-two veterinary colleges took on the challenge to educate students, faculty, and the public about vector-borne diseases this past year. Most events focused on educational programming, but some included charitable components.

This collective effort was a student initiative through the AVMA student chapters and was overseen by the SAVMA One Health Project, a program created and run by the SAVMA House of Delegates and SAVMA Executive Board to stimulate awareness of the global one-health movement. Every two years, this group chooses an initiative and encourages students to organize and participate in events to increase community awareness and collaboration within the health professions.

Funds for this challenge have been donated by the AVMA Group Health and Life Insurance Trust, which has contributed $20,000 annually to the effort over the past five years.

Themes for the SAVMA One Health Challenge have included rabies and obesity awareness. In 2011 and continuing into 2013, the focus is vector-borne disease.

Of the schools that hosted events, the following five received recognition for their achievements from SAVMA in August during the AVMA Annual Convention in San Diego.
  • The University of California-Davis was honored with the Most Vet School Student Participation award for its Dog ‘n’ Jog Human/Animal Health Fair in October 2011, through which 100 students raised $3,192. 
  • Ross University received the Most Community Participation award for its seventh-semester students’ sale and annual open house in January, during which the island’s residents were invited to visit the campus. Community education focused on ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis, leptospirosis, and ringworm infection.
  • The University of Pennsylvania earned the Greatest Impact award for its One-Health Lecture Series in February focusing on the research of leading scientists in vector-borne disease, including malaria, Chagas disease, leishmaniasis, and Lyme disease. Events involved collaboration among medical, veterinary, public health, and nursing schools.  
  • Purdue University was honored with the Most Creative award. In October 2011, students created a vector-borne–themed haunted house to raise awareness in the community and among children about the dangers of vector-borne diseases in this country.  
  • St. George’s University won the Most Focused on Theme award for its Vector-Borne Disease Symposium in February. The veterinary, medical, and public health schools put on the event, which drew 200 students, 50 faculty members, and nearly 10 government officials to learn about diseases such as ehrlichiosis, dengue fever, and West Nile infection in Grenada and other Caribbean areas.

The SAVMA One Health Working Group has selected “Food Safety, Security, and Health: The Veterinarian’s Role” as its theme for 2013-2015.