Animal, human health overlaps explored at Zoobiquity Nov. 1

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Animal, human health overlaps explored at Zoobiquity Nov. 1

Other species can reflect problems in our world and in our homes
Leila Gray

The animals in our midst are also sentinels of health. Diseases in domestic or wild animals can be signs of trouble in the environment and among humans.

The Zoobiquity 2014 conference slated for Nov. 1 in Seattle will explore the clinically important overlaps between illnesses in people and other living creatures.

The interrelationships that contribute to the well-being of our planet and its inhabitants – or that  lead to sickness or damaged habitats – are increasingly referred to as “one health.“  

One of the planners for  Zoobiquity 2014 is Peter Rabinowitz, who heads the new Center for One Health Research at the University of Washington. He is a professor of environmental and occupational health in the UW School of Public Health.

Zoobiquity 2014 is a collaboration among several  institutions including Woodland Park Zoo, the College of Veterinary Medicine and the Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health, both at Washington State University; the UW School of Public Health, UW Medicine and the UW School of Medicine, and the Zoobiquity Research Initiative at UCLA.  Health professionals and students representing a wide variety of interests in the welfare of humans, animals and the environment will have the unusual opportunity to interact.

"Health-care providers and veterinarians need to communicate about diseases occuring in multiple species sot that we can detect and prevent unhealthy environments," Rabinowitz said. He mentioned some examples of topics that will be covered:

  • On a global scale, environmental changes may be behind the rise in certain infectious diseases, such as Cryptocoocus gatti, in both animals and people. The infection has recently emerged in the Pacific Northwest.
  • Closer to home, the plump dogs and chubby cats snoring on our couches are another sign of the obesity epidemic happening in humans and their companion animals. What can be done to get people and their pets in better shape?
  • Asthma is on the increase in children and in cats.  Are such cases tip-offs to nearby health hazards?
  • Animal abuse can be a warning of the potential for domestic violence in a household.  How can animal welfare workers, veterinarians, medical professionals and social service personnel share information about tense situations to prevent violence to people and animals?

At Zoobiquity 2014,  medical, biology, wildlife, environmental and veterinary experts will discuss cases of diseases occuring in humans and animals. They then will conduct a walking rounds at Woodland Park Zoo to learn first-hand about animal issues that illustrate the interconnection of animal, human and planetary health.

Oct. 1 is the deadline for a reduced-registration fee for attendees, including students. The conference is sponsoring a student poster competition. For a program and registration information, visit

In conjuction with Zoobiquity 2014, several local organizations will host "Health Matters: The Human Animal Connection" as part of the Civics series at Seattle Town Hall.  The event takes place Thursday evening, Oct. 30.  The moderated panel includes Peter Ross, senior scientist at the Vancouver Aquarium and Richard Grady, UW professor of medicine and a pediatric urologist at Seattle Children's. The organizers for the panel discussion include Town Hall Seattle, the UW School of Public Health, and University Book Store.