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Shared Medical Maladies of Humans and Other Animals

An essay in the New York Times discussed the shared medical maladies of humans and other animals.  The authors, one of whom is a cardiology professor at UCLA, wrote, “Most physicians see animals and their illnesses as somehow ‘different.’  Humans have their diseases.  Animals have theirs.  The human medical establishment has an undeniable, though unspoken, bias against veterinary medicine…My medical education included stern warnings against the tantalizing pull to anthropomorphize…But scientific advancements of the past two decades suggest that we should adopt an updated perspective.  Seeing too much of ourselves in other animals might not be the problem we think it is.  Underappreciating our own animal natures may be the greater limitation.”

Letters commenting on the above essay…One came from the co-founders of the “One Health Initiative,” a global effort to increase communication and collaboration between physicians and veterinarians.  They wrote, “Animals share our homes and serve as sentinels for environmental toxic exposures, yet we do not include them in epidemiologic or biomedical studies in areas of research such as asthma, cancer or infectious diseases, even though they suffer from these diseases.  Imagine the benefits to both human and animal health if we integrated our research efforts, using the ‘One Health’ approach, to study disease processes across species.”  The AAMC is a supporter of the initiative.

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