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Dog bite injuries and One Health

Christopher J. Mannion, a Consultant and Clinical Associate Professor at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, reflects on his ‘One Health’ journey and explains how he discovered the concept through his work on dog bite injuries, and why it is so important to his work.

Christopher J. Mannion has surgical subspecialty interests in major trauma, facial reconstruction and facial deformity surgery, and is heavily involved in undergraduate and postgraduate medical education. His work into dog bite injuries has allowed him to develop close relationships and collaborate with many different specialities and professions.

Here he reflects on his ‘One Health’ journey, explaining how he discovered the concept, why it is so important to his work and his hopes to develop this for the benefit of his patients:

Dog bite injuries and One Health

My understanding of the ‘One Health’ concept was developed through my work as a facial surgeon treating dog bite injuries. Dog bites are often multifaceted in cause and result from a complex interaction of human, animal and social factors - something that was not immediately clear until I embraced a ‘One Health’ approach. My initial ‘blinkered’ thinking was to identify the magnitude of the problem collecting data and then address this by sharing ideas within a small surgical specialty group, but not seeing a wider viewpoint.

How a One Health approach helped

Identifying individuals within different professions has been fundamental to addressing the key issues for reducing the risks of dog bite injuries and fits entirely within the ‘One Health’ paradigm - collaboration of multiple disciplines and professions to attain optimal health for people, animals and the environment.

This has led to me joining and working closely with different medical specialties and resulted in a ‘dog bite register’ that includes developing awareness of the number of bite injuries, the circumstance surrounding the incident, medical management and the outcome of patients.

The valued contribution from veterinary colleagues also highlighted the importance of asking critical questions involving the animal’s veterinary and biting history. So far, this register has enabled us to assess characteristics of the dogs attributed to the dog bite, the situations in which bites occurred, and the nature and severity of the bite injury. This information can then be shared with dog owners through their own vets.

How can this be developed further?

Key ‘One Health’ principles involve more joined up educational strategies. To this end, I have been fortunate to be a key note speaker at a European Veterinary Congress in Munich, presenting a surgeon’s perspective on dog bite injuries and how to address these complex wounds. I have also collaborated with many diverse professionals authoring a chapter in a book ‘Dog Bites - a multidisciplinary perspective’ together with publishing several academic articles in medical and veterinary journals.

I believe that ‘One Health’ should be more actively promoted in our undergraduate and postgraduate learning, with a far more concerted effort to joined up thinking. The collective ideas and efforts contribute towards the improvement of clinical care for all our patients while actively encouraging new ways of thinking. This surely is a good thing!

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