Peter Rabinowitz, MD MPH- UW School of Public Health
Associate Professor, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, Department of Global Health
Adjunct Professor, School of Medicine, Department of Allergy and Infectious Disease
Director, Center for One Health Research (COHR)
Can you tell us how the concept of zoobiquity could promote interprofessional education and collaborative practice?
Dr. Rabinowitz: “The concept of Zoobiquity is that non-human animals and humans share many of the same diseases, including both infections as well as chronic conditions such as obesity and diabetes. Sometimes, as human health care practitioners, we can get a whole new perspective on a medical condition by learning how it affects animals. For example, there may be many parallels between cutting behavior in humans and excessive grooming in animals such as horses or caged birds. Human health care providers could potentially learn lessons in how to treat such a condition by finding out how veterinarians treat the condition in animals.
The concept of 'One Health' means that both human and animal health are intertwined with the health of the environments we all share. Therefore, a cat developing allergies in a house may be a 'sentinel' (like the 'canary in the coal mine') for environmental hazards that could also be affecting people in the household. Similarly, a visiting nurse who notes that animals in a house seem neglected should realize that this may be a tip-off of elder abuse or neglect.
The human animal bond could also have healing properties- and that is why companion animals are being used to provide psychosocial support to cancer patients and other patients with chronic illnesses. Because many people care so deeply about animals, collaborating between human and animal health professionals may help with access to care for some populations. For example, many homeless people have pets. Having joint Med/Vet vaccination or treatment clinics that can treat and vaccinate both animals and humans may be a way to encourage such homeless individuals to seek care.
Engaging in discussions between human and animal health professionals can lead to better understanding and more effective treatment of conditions. This 'species spanning' approach can be taught to nurses, physicians, and other human health care practitioners."
Which professions are most likely to work together around the zoobiquity concept?
Dr. Rabinowitz: “I think that nurses are a likely profession since their care model is to look at the patient in context of home, family, and community, which often involves significant interactions with animals.
Primary care providers such as NPs, PAs, and family physicians also need to realize that the patient centered medical home may need to include information about animals in the home or nearby.”
How many veterinarians currently work at UW? In whom do they collaborate with (professions) and what is the most common topic of joint research?
Dr. Rabinowitz: “There are a number of veterinarians (I believe about 25?) currently on faculty or otherwise employed through the Department of Comparative Medicine. They are focused on supporting animal research, but many of them have wider interests and skills.”
Is this a topic that health professional students could and should learn together? Any ideas for joint student projects?
Dr. Rabinowitz: “Teaching human health students to think in a comparative "species spanning" way may also help them acquire medical skills. For example, comparing x-rays of animals and humans may help human health care students be more observant and perceptive about x-ray findings and anatomy.”