Editor's Choice

One medicine?

BMJ 2005; 331 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.331.7527.0-f (Published 24 November 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;331:0-f
  1. Graham Easton, assistant editor (geaston{at}bmj.com),
  2. Martin Alder, editor (editorial{at}bva-edit.co.uk)

    The threat of an influenza pandemic in humans and the deaths of millions of birds around the world brings the link between human and animal health sharply into focus. Now is a good time to consider the wider connections between animal and human health and to think about how the medical and veterinary professions might work more closely together for the benefit of patients of all species. This joint issue of the BMJ and the Veterinary Record is an attempt to do that. You can access all this week's articles—in both the BMJ and the Veterinary Record—free of charge online. There are cross links between the Veterinary Record website (http://www.bvapublications.com/) and the BMJ website (http://www.bmj.com/).

    When doctors think about the relation between animals and human health, they tend to focus mainly on the hazards animals pose to humans. Those threats are real enough—see for instance Andrew Cunningham's editorial on emerging wildlife diseases from avian influenza to Nipah virus (p 1214), David Warrell's review of the management of bites from adders and exotic venomous snakes (p 1244), and Picozzi and colleagues' concerns about the growing problem of trypanosomiasis in Uganda (p 1238). But humans pose threats to animals too—emerging diseases can do terrible damage to wildlife and domesticated animals. Animals can also benefit human health and wellbeing in many ways—for example, as pets (see McNicholas and colleagues' review of the evidence on 1252), in therapy for depression (see Antonioli's trial on the use of dolphins in treating depression (1231), and even through human involvement in wildlife conservation projects (1221).

    There is some fruitful cross fertilisation of ideas between the two professions on the subjectof eradication programmes on 1261), ethics in clinical practice on 1227, and the UK government's response to animal and human health issues on 1216.

    The Veterinary Record this week looks at the threat from emerging diseases, and the lessons being learnt internationally. It considers steps being taken to improve surveillance and to identify and assess the risks of new diseases as they emerge. Other articles compare approaches to professional training and clinical audit.

    The response to the idea of a joint theme issue was positive. Inevitably we haven't been able to take up all the suggestions we received, but we hope that the two issues give a sense of how doctors and vets are working together, and perhaps highlight areas where more could be achieved. We would welcome feedback and hope that readers of both journals will join our one hour web chat at 4 pm local UK time on Thursday 1 December. Go to http://quest.bmj.com/chat to register, read the rules of engagement, and suggest themes the webchat might explore.

    Footnotes

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