The OneHealth Paradigm

Operationalising a OneHealth approach to surveillance, preparedness and control of emerging and re-emerging zoonotic diseases in India.


The combination of high biodiversity, human population density, and close proximity with domestic and wild animals makes India highly vulnerable to the threat of emerging and re-emerging zoonotic diseases. A OneHealth approach to surveillance, preparedness and control has been advocated for effectively tackling these threats. However, given the historic, “siloed” nature of research and institutions in India, there have been multiple challenges to effectively operationalise OneHealth research. Here, I outline two examples of integrated OneHealth research that have helped generate novel insights in to disease dynamics for rabies and Kyasanur forest disease in India, and highlight how this can be a useful template to operationalise OneHealth research in India. Finally, I will showcase a the outline of a new National initiative that will hopefully provide the framework for team science and OneHealth surveillance systems in India.

A key feature of the semi-arid savanna biome in India is that these are coupled social- ecological systems, with high dependencies and feedback between anthropogenic use and biodiversity persistence. These landscapes thus harbor a variety of native species, by providing a matrix of several habitat types. These species also interact with domestic animals, such as domestic dogs, at multiple levels. As these species compete for common resources, they are also involved in transmission of zoonotic diseases, such as rabies, which can also infect humans.
Understanding how domestic dogs utilize the landscape is a prerequisite for mapping pathways of disease transmission, for both human and animal well-being. Thus, under the ‘One-Health’ approach, we examined the resource use and linkages between domestic and wild canids. We used high-resolution movement data to identify the habitat use and activity patterns of domestic dogs, and examined potential interactions with wild carnivores. We found that dogs living in villages had much smaller home ranges as compared to dogs living further away from the village, mainly due to the availability of human subsidies, as village dogs had a more stable access to food and shelter. Farm dogs also showed larger daily displacements and longer active hours than village dogs. We also observed that most farm dog home-ranges overlapped spatially with those of wild carnivores, thereby increasing the pathways of zoonotic disease transmission. Our results show that the implementation of disease-control interventions should take into account the behaviour of particular dog populations.

Postdoctoral Associate, Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation

Phylogenetic analysis of the rabies virus in Asian regions has confirmed the multiple independent transmission cycles of this virus whereof all carnivore host reservoirs; domestic dog remains the dominating hosts accounting for more than 90% of all human rabies fatalities. Previously reported large-scale phylodynamic studies attempting to identify the origin of diverse rabies virus lineages and spill-over events have been deficient in representation from Asian countries where most human deaths due to rabies are recorded.
The present study using high throughput sequencing platforms for rabies genomes and phylogenetic analysis to understand its evolution and mutations. The rate of evolution in substitutions per site per year was 0.28 x10-3 and the ancestor origin (TMRCA) was approximately June 2000. Phylogenetic clusters of samples close in time and their geographic differentiation indicated the sustained circulation of viral variants and speedy divergence that contributes to the sustainment of the enzootic cycle of domestic rabies in Pune city.

Akash Ashwinia, Priyanka Jamwalb, Abi Tamim Vanakc

aResearch Associate, Centre for Environment and Development, ATREE

bFellow, Centre for Environment and Development, ATREE

cSenior Fellow (Associate Prof), ATREE

We placed our study in the catchment and selected four sub catchments/regions, viz areas with dense and with sparse number of poultry farms, agricultural fields and the village to assess the impact of use of antibiotics on the environment. Preliminary results show the presence of 7 Multidrug resistant bacterial species in chicken litter with 5 species having a MAR index greater than 0.2. In agricultural soil where litter is used as manure, 7 multidrug resistant species with 2 species scoring a MAR index greater than 0.2 were observed. No resistance pattern is seen in the soil and water surrounding the poultry farms as proper disinfection protocols are followed at the poultries. E.coli and Enterobacter species showed resistance in village soil and control soil with MAR index less than 0.2. Abbreviations:

1. AMR-Antimicrobial Resistance,

2. MAR Index- Multiple Antibiotics Resistance Index