Center for Public Health and Zoonoses Symposium 2019 – Rachel Finer

On May 30, 2019, I had the privilege to attend the CPHAZ symposium for my third year in a row and once again it did not disappoint. I find each year I gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for the information that is presented. The keynote speaker, Dr. Kirk Leifso, gave an enlightening presentation that explained some of the details surrounding Lyme disease and its diagnosis. Having studied blacklegged tick ecology for the past two years, Lyme disease and its various symptoms and diagnosis, was something I never fully understood.  I now understand that currently the best testing methods are a serology test that looks for B. burgdorferi antibodies; however, this test is not completely accurate and still produces false negatives and false positives. Therefore, many individuals still go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed; false positive diagnoses may be treated for Lyme disease and thus not the treatment that they need to recover. As a pediatrician, Dr. Leifso showed us many cases of the symptoms experienced by children due to Lyme disease, including multiple erythema migrans rashes that often go misdiagnosed as hives, or even a sun burn. Children are at an increased risk of tick bites, as convincing little ones to stay covered and keep their pants tucked into their socks certainly isn’t the easiest of tasks.  Dr. Leifso emphasized the importance of awareness of increasing tick risk in order to correctly diagnose these kinds of symptoms that are key indicators of Lyme Disease.

Another highlight of the symposium for me was the interactive session hosted by Drs. Katie Clow and Jane Parmley on One Health.  I am extremely fascinated with taking a One Health approach to solving zoonotic disease problems. I was thrilled to hear about the possibility of courses being developed for both undergrad and DVM stream and hope to have the opportunity to experience these courses as I continue in my education.

After enjoying listening and learning from many other presentations, the take home message of the conference for me was that problem solving is like a puzzle that can not be made of a single solution or discipline but by the integration of many pieces, putting the puzzle together, much like a One Health approach.