CPHAZ Symposium - Kaitlin Doering

My experience with Ontario Veterinary College’s CORE program this summer has been an amazing whirlwind of learning experiences, knowledge gained, personal growth and overall refinement of my interests and future ambitions. Through the program, I had the opportunity to attend the Centre For Public Health and Zoonoses (CPHAZ) Symposium and expand my knowledge on the topic of One Health - which I came to understand as the intersection of human health, veterinary medicine and the environment. The concept of One Health was not something I was familiar with prior to this symposium, but as the day progressed, I began to understand just how interconnected health research and intervention are in improving the health of a system as a whole.

One of the student presentations that really caught my attention was entitled “I know what you ate last summer - DNA metabarcoding for tick blood-meals by Genevieve Lumsden. She spoke about reservoir potential of host animals who may transmit lyme disease and the importance of understanding the host community composition involved in vector-host assemblages. In order to identify the relative contribution of host species to the transmission and maintenance of B. burgdorferi within a community, she had to first evaluate whether or not it was possible to detect and identify the blood-meal in engorged adults who fed on a known host. It was found that 97% of hosts were accurately identified on the day of feeding up until day 14 where a considerable decline in positive host identification occurred due to DNA degradation. Nevertheless, this research fascinated me in its ability to further understand the transmission pathways of tick borne diseases where vector host assemblages are constantly changing.

The ties that bind the health of the environment, animals and humans is interdependent, complex and beautiful. After my time at CPHAZ, it is quite evident that as researchers, we have begun to collaborate and move towards the understanding that One Health research should consider as system as a whole and is an novel approach to solving problems, rather than a discipline of its own. I am excited to have attended this symposium this year and look forward to attending it again in the future!