CPHAZ Symposium - Stephen Miltenburg

On May 30th, 2019 I had the opportunity to attend the 2019 Centre for Public Health and Zoonoses Annual Symposium (CPHAZ). This is an event aimed at connecting professionals and researchers from a variety of backgrounds to tackle health challenges under a One Health approach. There are many lessons to be learned from other fields, and exchanging knowledge with public health, food safety, and medical professionals can improve veterinary practice.

One topic with significant implications for Ontarians was the keynote on Lyme disease performed by pediatrician Dr. Kirk Leifso. Dr. Leifso spoke of his experience diagnosing and dealing with an increase in Lyme disease in Eastern Ontario. In his talk he highlighted how cats were potential tick vectors that could spread Lyme to children and adults. Veterinarians who can recommend keeping cats indoors and teaching clients how to browse for ticks on their animals can be a big part of reducing Lyme disease. Additionally, he spoke at a length about how many “bullseye” tick bite rashes go undiagnosed as the rashes can be quite variable in size and shape. As Lyme disease spreads across more of Ontario, it will be important for all One Health participants to understand how the disease levels are changing and that it might be seen in their areas soon.

During the afternoon I was able to listen to Dr. Berke discuss the use of machine learning in predicting annual disease levels. As machine learning and data collection improves, I think this will become a much larger field and one that practitioners can utilize in preventing disease in production systems. I think there is a lot of opportunity in poultry, swine, and beef for machine learning applications when predicting challenges to future groups based on variables like crop yields, prior disease, and weather.

                I was impressed with the variety of research discussed at CPAHAZ and it was helpful to see Lyme disease discussed from a human medicine standpoint. I look forward to attending more One Health focused days in the future.