SDG 15: Life on Land, focuses on sustainable management of forests, combatting desertification, halting and reversing land degradation, and halting biodiversity loss.
In this episode, Ophelia Michaelides speaks to two researchers that are working towards improving our understanding of zoonotic diseases, or, diseases transmitted between animals and humans. Discussions focus on unpacking what zoonotic diseases are; how social and environmental factors impact their spread; and the actions we can take at individual, national, and global scales to develop more sustainable prevention and mitigation strategies for managing zoonotic disease emergence.
Dr. Samira Mubareka is a virologist, medical microbiologist and infectious disease physician at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology at the University of Toronto. Samira has been working on SARS-CoV-2 since the outset of the pandemic in North America with a focus on virus biology, bioaerosols and exposure, genomics and diagnostics through close and cross-disciplinary collaborations across engineering, computational biology, molecular virology and animal health. Samira serves on the Chief Science Advisor of Canada, Dr. M. Nemer’s COVID-19 Expert Panel, the Implementation Committee of the Genome Canada-led Canadian COVID-19 Genomics Network (CanCOGeN) VirusSeq project, and the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table. She is currently focused on understanding the biology and transmission of SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern and on coronavirus zoonotic spillover. Samira holds an MD from Dalhousie University, completed training in Internal Medicine at McGill University, and specialized in Infectious Diseases and Medical Microbiology at the University of Manitoba.
Isha Berry is a PhD Candidate in Epidemiology at the University of Toronto Dalla Lana School of Public Health. She is also a Fellow in the Emerging Leaders in Biosecurity Initiative at the Johns Hopkins Centre for Health Security. Isha has expertise in infectious disease epidemiology and mathematical modelling and has experience conducting infectious disease research in low-, middle-, and high-income settings. Her primary area of research is understanding the socio-behavioral drivers of global emerging infectious diseases at the human-animal interface. She holds an MSc in Epidemiology from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and a BSc in Environmental Science from McGill University.
CREDITS: This podcast is co-hosted by Dr. Erica Di Ruggiero, Director of the Centre for Global Health, and Ophelia Michaelides, Manager of the Centre for Global Health, at the DLSPH, U of T, and produced by Elizabeth Loftus. Audio editing is by Sylvia Lorico. Music is produced by Julien Fortier and Patrick May. It is made with the support of the School of Cities at U of T.
Ophelia Michaelides [00:00:07] I'm Ophelia Michaelides and this is healthy cities in the SDG era, a podcast about the Sustainable Development Goals and how research conducted by faculty and students at the University of Toronto is helping to achieve them. We're recording from Toronto or Tekaronto, which for thousands of years has been the traditional land of the Huron Wind at the Seneca and the Mississaugas is of the credit. Today, this meeting place is still the home to many indigenous people across Turtle Island and we are very grateful to have the opportunity to work on this land. In this episode, we'll look into SDG 15 Life on Land. The goal of SDG 15 is to sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss. According to the U.N. Forests are home to more than 80% of all terrestrial species of animals, plants and insects. Anthropogenic drivers have altered almost 75% of the Earth's surface, impeding on the natural balance of ecosystems, leading to increased risk of zoonotic disease transmission. In 2016, the UN Environment Program noted a worldwide increase in zoonotic epidemics and that 70% of all emerging infectious diseases in humans are zoonotic in nature and closely interlinked with the health of ecosystems. In an effort to address and reverse the degradation of ecosystems worldwide, the UN launched a decade on ecosystems restoration, a globally coordinated response, focusing on fostering political will to reevaluate and restore humankind's relationship with nature. In this episode, we'll speak with Dr. Samira Mubaraka about influenza virus transmission and how it's intricately impacted by shifts in the ecosystem caused by anthropogenic drivers. She'll also share her suggestions regarding precautions we can take to avoid future pandemics. Then we'll speak with Isha Barry, whose research focuses on the intersection of human, animal and environmental health. She'll share her insights on socio behavioral factors of zoonotic disease transmission and the importance of science communication in mitigating risk.
Ophelia Michaelides [00:02:26] Dr. Samira Mubaraka is currently a virologist, medical microbiologist and infectious disease physician at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology at the University of Toronto. Samira has been working on SARS-CoV-2 since the outset of the pandemic in North America, with a focus on virus biology, bio aerosols and exposure, genomics and diagnostics through close and cross-disciplinary collaborations across engineering, computational biology, molecular virology and animal health. Samira serves on the Chief Science Advisor of Canada's COVID 19 Expert Panel, the implementation committee of the Genome Canada led Canadian COVID 19 Genomics Network, Virus Sequence Project and the Ontario COVID 19 Science Advisory Table. She's currently focused on understanding the biology and transmission of SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern. Non-Coronavirus Zoonotic Spillover. Samira Holds An M.D. from Dalhousie University completed training in internal medicine at McGill University, specializes in infectious diseases and medical microbiology at the University of Manitoba. Welcome to the program, Samiraq. Thank you so much for being on the show.
Samira Mubareka [00:03:42] Thank you so much for the invitation, Ophelia.
Ophelia Michaelides [00:03:44] Please tell us about yourself and your research.
Samira Mubareka [00:03:48] Yes. So I'm one of the infectious diseases physicians here at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center and a clinician scientist at Stony Brook Research Institute, also at the University of Toronto. And our research, at least prior to the pandemic, was really focused on influenza virus transmission. And of course, when the pandemic hit, we really started working intensely on Sars-coronavirus-two from the same perspective really around transmission. And we started exploring transmission also between species.
Ophelia Michaelides [00:04:19] That's fascinating, given the work that you do. I was hoping, Samira, that could comment a little bit on how perhaps biodiversity or the health of ecosystems relate to the emergence and the spread of zoonotic diseases. And you know, in your research, what do you see as needed to better understand this relationship?
Samira Mubareka [00:04:42] And so it's becoming a really pressing question for a number of reasons. And I think probably the most obvious one is that there are human drivers of what we call disease emergence or spillover, so that when a pathogen it could be a virus or a bacteria or a parasite spills over from one species into another. And all of these drivers are what we call anthropogenic. So they're human drivers. They're behaviors that humans has have have been doing that changed biodiversity. And I know people have probably heard a lot about that, but or maybe a little bit less familiar with how that actually impacts zoonoses. So really part of the I think one of the key concepts is to think about where these viruses live. A lot of zoonotic viruses, those are not viruses. Not pathogens by definition, are pathogens that are transmitted from one species to another. Often we refer to animal to human, but also there are plenty of examples of human to animal as well. And obviously in between different species of animals. And when you disrupt the natural balance in a given ecosystem, you also disrupt viral habitats, right? So that could potentially expose vulnerable or susceptible populations to pathogens they've never been exposed to before. And when we think about things that jump from animals to humans, we call that interface the human animal interface. So just as an example, land development projects bring people closer to viruses or bacteria that they normally wouldn't be exposed to. And sometimes that gives those pathogens an opportunity to adapt to a new host, i.e. the human host.
Ophelia Michaelides [00:06:26] Thank you, Samira, for that explanation and for providing more of an ecological framework for understanding infectious disease transmission and of course, the role that humans play in this dynamic. It's clear, from what I'm understanding, from what you've shared, that the drivers for zoonotic disease spread include changes in these viral habitats and these climatic conditions, these variability in these habitats. I'm curious to explore the drivers or the anthropogenic drivers of these processes and changes a bit further, perhaps using an exemplar from your work. As I understand, you do work on Arbovirus and or the orthobunyavirus transmission in the context of climate change. With that in mind, what type of environmental factors drive transmission of these viruses?
Samira Mubareka [00:07:19] Yeah, so that's one of the things we're hoping to understand. Orthobunyaviruses are a little bit cryptic. People haven't heard of them, I imagine so, although they're from a completely different viral family, you can maybe think of them as similar in some respects to West Nile virus, for example. So it's also transmitted by a mosquito. In the case of West Nile virus, these are endemic mosquitoes that that that have been long established here in Canada. And it can also cause encephalitis in humans, much like West Nile virus. So what we call neurotrophic, they like to cause neurological disease. The other similarity in some respects is that there are also animal species that are susceptible to these viruses, but these pieces are different. So in the case of orthobunyaviruses and they all have really neat names like Caves Valley Virus and Jamestown Canyon Virus and Snowshoe Hare Virus. And so they can infect animals, obviously, as the Snowshoe virus name implies, but specifically they can also infect small ruminants. So these are deeps and goats and can cause fetal malformations. So not only can these viruses be important to human health, but they're really important to animal health as well. And because they're transmitted through mosquitoes, any of the climatic conditions that enhance mosquito population, enhance feeding behavior, reduce incubation times for the viruses, can really enhance the spread of the virus. And of course, this is what we're studying. We haven't shown this yet because this is really the working hypothesis. So to be a little bit more specific, what what we anticipate is that as our winters become shorter and warmer, as our summers become longer and warmer, that allows a number of conditions to that really are optimal for viral transmission. So, for example, larval development. So mosquito larval development under those conditions, is this faster, more abundant? There's also just because the summer is longer, you may have noticed, like you're still getting mosquito bites later in the summer than we used to ten, 20 years ago. Right. So that really just enhances the seasonality or the transmission period for some of these viruses. And then also what we call the extrinsic incubation temperature, for example, or through the incubation period, for example. So what that is, is the period of time between when a virus might enter a vector like a mosquito and when it can be transmitted to the host. So so because that could be shortened and maybe because there are also shorter time periods between feeding, you get a net increased number of transmission events because of more frequent feeding and shorter incubation times. So all of those things that are are linked to enhanced mosquito survival and activity can also potentially we will find out with research not. Not just that we're doing, but many others as well, that hopefully we'll we'll find out whether or not some of these drivers are indeed at play and where our particular orthobunyavirus project is really focusing on viruses that are endemic here to Canada. We're not talking about tropical or exotic viruses, but I think we're we all know that some of these exotic mosquito species. So a lot of the same climatic factors that enhance Canadian or native mosquito species to thrive can also enable exotic mosquito species to become established. And those species of mosquitoes can harbor new pathogens. So ones that are not currently endemic in Canada. So think about dengue, think about Zika virus. So obviously we need to do surveillance not only for the mosquitoes that can harbor those viruses, but for the viruses themselves.
Ophelia Michaelides [00:11:31] Mm hmm. And listening to you speak, it's obvious that there are so many variables that go into these dynamics. You know, when it comes to virus existence in our natural world, how they spill over into human populations, how they affect human health, etc., and certainly requires a very broad understanding of infectious disease transmission that is very closely linked to our ideas and concepts around planetary health. In thinking about this, I'm curious to know some of your reflections and learnings from of all of this research to the COVID 19 pandemic that we are still very much living in these days. In thinking about your research and COVID 19. What are some precautions or actions do you think that we could take, you know, on a local, national, even global scale to avoid similar situations from arising in the future?
Samira Mubareka [00:12:32] Yeah. So I think that you have to start off at the global scale because here in Canada there's certainly a there's certainly a chance that there will be viral spillover, but that would lead to a pandemic, whether it's from an avian influenza or from a novel coronavirus. It's possible, but chances are greater that things will evolve or spill over in another jurisdiction, just as we've seen with Zika virus, Ebola virus, MAS Coronavirus Sars-coronavirus back in 2003 and this current pandemic virus. So namely, surveillance efforts and response efforts globally, I think is something that we could do better at. There are a lot of resources we could share that I think would..would go a very long way and they go well beyond surveillance. There are other key factors in preparedness, including vaccines, etc., that are that are really critical to plan for, especially during an entire pandemic period. Let's not wait for the next pandemic to work on this. And then I think also sharing data and health intelligence, I think that's really key. So if you kind of compare and contrast SA's coronavirus from 2003 and the data that was available at the outset versus the data that was available at the outset of this pandemic, very different. So, you know, within a very short period of time. Those cases of severe pneumonia being reported in China, the whole genome sequence of the virus was available in the public domain very quickly. Whereas, you know, when I think back to 2003, obviously the methods and the technology was very different, but we didn't even know it was a virus for quite a while. There was I don't know if you were others, remember, but for a while people were thinking it might have been a bacteria that was causing. We were really starting from scratch back then. So...So there's been some progress. I think if we at least domestically, one of the things that we could do is we know from from reports in the United States that the virus has spilled over into wildlife. So we've we've done well with human testing, I think. Obviously, we don't get an A-plus, but I think we get you know, we've done we pass probably..probably with some merit in terms of getting testing up and running and scaled up in a rapid, rapid manner. But really, it's focused on humans. Right. We haven't really been as...as comprehensive and coordinated looking at wildlife. And that's understandable. I mean, the immediate response was too focused on human health because that's clearly where the burden of disease was. But now we know that it can spill over to deer and and other wildlife. We know that the variants can expand species range. So specifically, the alpha variant has a mutation that allows mice that are otherwise not susceptible to Sars-coronavirus to be susceptible to Sars-coronavirus. So there's an expanded species range with some of the variants. So we need to look into these wildlife reservoirs or potential, I should say, potential reservoirs and also other animals. And we know that the companion animals can also become infected. We know that zoo animals can become infected. And we also don't know the implications for animal health either. Presumably, white-tailed deer in Canada are just as susceptible to these coronaviruses from an immune standpoint as we are. But hopefully disease is not a component of infection in wildlife, but we definitely have to rule that out because the implications for wildlife health would be significant. And then last on an individual level, I think, you know, we we have really established the ideal conditions for a rapid pandemic virus, spillover and spread. You know, it was like I remember when this was happening in Canada, community spread became established shortly after March break rate or somewhere in there right so that it's it's really I think we have to think about the way we travel, the way we interact and at a more societal level, how we mitigate the impact of the virus. So when you think about it was probably like, remember those early reports, the people who were skiing and in in the Alps were, you know, those were the early reports of the virus. But who ended up being impacted the most? It was essential workers, vulnerable populations who perhaps were underrepresented and underserved by the health care system and other systems. So, you know, we have to look at those underlying factors and make our society more resilient to the impact of...of these pandemic viruses so that, you know, not if when they come, we don't see so much disproportionate devastation. I think that those are some of the things we should think about in the coming months to years
Ophelia Michaelides [00:18:01] Mm hmm. What strikes me in listening to you speak is, while, yes. You know, biological and technical knowledge are certainly needed to control the spread of infectious disease, there are just so many additional requirements to controlling disease spread that go beyond surveillance, as you mentioned, but include things like political will and financial resources and equitable responses, coordination, information sharing, and the list goes on. Samira, I want to thank you so much for sharing some very profound reflections on our relationship with the microbial world and how we could and should continue to broaden our understanding of health as it relates to humans, microbes, animals and the environment. I want to thank you very much for being on today's episode.
Samira Mubareka [00:18:49] A pleasure. Thank you.
Ophelia Michaelides [00:18:59] Isha Berry is a Ph.D. candidate in epidemiology at the University of Toronto, Dalla Lana School of Public Health. She's also fellow in the Emerging Leaders in Biosecurity Initiative at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. Aisha has expertize in infectious disease epidemiology and mathematical modeling and has experience conducting infectious disease research in low, middle and high income settings. Her primary area of research is understanding the socio behavioral drivers of global emerging infectious diseases at the human animal interface. She holds a master's of science and epidemiology from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science from McGill University. Welcome to the program, Aisha. It's great to have you on today's episode.
Isha Berry [00:19:46] Thank you. Thank you for having me.
Ophelia Michaelides [00:19:48] I'm really looking forward to exploring the very important links between humans and food and infectious diseases with you. But before we begin, we'd like to hear more about you and your doctoral research on global infectious disease emergence and disease transmission at the human and animal interface.
Isha Berry [00:20:10] For sure. So yeah, my research really my research interests lie at the intersection of human animal and environmental health, and that includes measuring socio behavioral risk factors for disease transmission and really thinking about how do we evaluate the relative impact of control interventions through things like mathematical modeling to to support population, health and well-being. So specifically, my, my doctoral research is on the transmission dynamics of influenza and avian influenza or bird flu, if you might have been heard it called in urban Bangladesh.
Ophelia Michaelides [00:20:47] That's great. Such important global health research. And I'm sure as we continue to to discuss and chat, will will find all the many applications of your work in improving not only human health, but animal health, environmental health and well-being. But before we proceed, I did want to situate our discussion today within the context of SDG 15 and which we are discussing today. And I was hoping we could start by having you explain what the one health framework is and how it informs your approach to conducting research.
Isha Berry [00:21:23] Totally, yeah. So I'm actually excited to talk about one health. So I conduct all of my research using a one health framework, which is a collaborative research approach that brings together multiple disciplines working locally, nationally and globally to really obtain and support optimal health for people, animals and the environment. And so, you know, as I kind of mentioned, that my research is on disease transmission at this human animal interface. So using this approach allows me to ensure that data and expert opinion can really be brought together from multiple sectors and that we're identifying relevant problems and really working together to come up with important and sustainable solutions.
Ophelia Michaelides [00:22:05] Thank you, Aesha, for explaining this. And you know, what strikes me in listening to you is, you know, although I think scientists have noted, you know, similar disease progressions in animals and humans for for many centuries, human and animal and even planetary health disciplines have largely been practiced separately and at least until the 20th century. And so it's important to hear that the interconnection between people, animals and and our environment has gained and continues to gain more recognition, whether it be in the public health or animal health communities or more broadly. So in keeping with this framework, I would like to hear more about how food systems and markets are linked to disease transmission and how we could possibly make them safer.
Isha Berry [00:22:54] Totally. And I think it's you know, you've got such a good point about how these sort of have been working in silos. But really, when we think about health and wellbeing, it's a it's a really holistic approach. And so, yeah, life bird markets or live animal markets are really important human animal interfaces. And they can be a risk or a spot for emergence and spread of infectious diseases. So for instance, in my work in avian influenza and really, you know, these markets are common across the world and I would say maybe more so are particularly in areas where refrigeration, for instance, may not be accessible or reliable. But also, you know, there's really different cultural practices across the world in our attitude and relationship with our food system. So, you know, for instance, in North America, this is quite different than in other places or in Europe than maybe in other places around the world. And that really affects how and where we get our food. And at the end of the day, you know, we're not within disease transmission, within understanding the links between. Food systems and disease transmission. It's not really about trying to change people's relationship with their food system. That's really not feasible. It's not advisable, but it's about recognizing that food systems all over the world, including, you know, in Canada, you know, we have swine farms here, we have poultry farms here are areas for disease transmission and zoonotic. So infection, which means diseases that can transmit from animals to humans. And so really what we're trying to do is actively make these markets, farms, food systems generally safer and ultimately more sustainable for, you know, human well-being and for for animal health. And then touching on your second point about safety and how we actually do that and bring that about, I think. You know, there's there's so many different ways and there's been huge improvement in the field since the you know, since it's started becoming industrial, industrialized. But I think some of the things that we can do include improving sanitation practices, separating different animal species out so that they're not all in one spot thinking about vaccination and really just, you know, looking at things in a combined ecosystem, recognizing that to have a really safe food system and improving human and animal health practices.
Ophelia Michaelides [00:25:19] Absolutely. And I think you bring up some very important and critical points around our relationship with food and its role in our lives beyond simply just disease transmission and how there are so many factors to be considered when identifying ways and preventing disease risks to human health, for instance. So, I mean, knowing that interactions between humans and humans and animals are important for disease transmission, you know, what does this mean for assessing risk? I know a lot of your research uses mathematical modeling to model of disease, emergence and spread. And so wondering if you can comment a little bit on that. And, you know, as you do this work, if you've found that there are gaps in, you know, data gaps when doing this research.
Isha Berry [00:26:10] For sure, yeah. So, you know, knowing these interactions and seeing what that means for for disease emergence is still kind of tricky, right? So, you know, we can we really can't predict when a novel disease is going to emerge. So we've really developed our understanding as a scientific community on what factors contribute to disease emergence. So things like high animal diversity, population growth and deforestation, environmental encroachment, things like that. But we really don't actually know when that perfect storm is going to come together and to result in a new viral pathogen, for instance. So that's always difficult. And the other thing I think that's kind of hard and almost ironic about public health is that it's the science of non occurrence, right?
Ophelia Michaelides [00:26:58] So, exactly.
Isha Berry [00:26:59] Exactly.
Isha Berry [00:27:00] So so what that really means is we can't actually assess how many things we've prevented through our improved biosecurity practices or prevention measures. And so kind of touching on your question about modeling and why it's used and how we use it and the data gaps that exist. So thinking about all of these questions and all of these uncertainties, we really use these models and rely on data to support these models to get an understanding of what could happen and what are the different scenarios that may occur and what's the uncertainty around all of them. And actually, it's you know, it really comes down to even with the best data that we have, there is always going to be gaps. So so for instance, yeah, like for instance, some of the gaps are that we don't actually know a lot about how humans react to everything. And I think this year has been a case in point of that. So for instance, if we think about novel disease emergence, we might be able to build a model that can help us identify, you know, what are the what are the what are the factors that might help us predict when a novel disease might emerge? But if it does emerge, it kind of matters where it happens. If it happens in a urban area, then maybe, you know, that person might have a lot of contact and that could spread a lot faster than if it happened in a rural area where, you know, maybe a person is not as well connected or what if it happens to an index patient that doesn't have a lot of contacts, it tends to stay home versus someone that's, you know, always out in the town. So there's a lot of uncertainty. And when we think about new diseases and just general disease emergence and I think we can think about our our last almost two years of COVID and thinking about how you know, this data on human mobility and human reactions to. Large events we can. We have some idea of what people will do. So, you know, when we have a lockdown, we know that people are going to stay home. But what about in this gray period where things are opening? Will some people feel comfortable going back in? Well, some people not. Will everyone feel comfortable going back in? So there's a lot of this, you know, realistically, it's a mix of all of this. We don't know the exact proportions. And and I think that comes back down to it's not necessarily a data gap. It's just something that we're we're really constantly trying to improve and use new methods to try and improve that uncertainty. And it's why when you think of mathematical modeling, you sort of see a lot of different scenarios and plausible ranges and options to capture the fact that there is actually just a lot of uncertainty to some sometimes things that we really want a real answer to.
Ophelia Michaelides [00:29:55] The can certainly appreciate the complexity and and really recognition of the uncertainty and all of these processes. And, you know, sometimes humans are don't deal well with uncertainty. And I think, as you mentioned, the last two years perhaps are indicative of some of the challenges around not knowing. And we have these tools, but again, tools have limitations. And so it's you know, we're constantly adapting and emerging together as we find, you know, as we discover new data and new information. So in thinking about all of this, you know, how can we do better? I understand you're a big advocate of community outreach and science communication. I mean, from your experience, what what is this? Why are these elements so important in terms of addressing zoonotic disease, emergence in in your opinion?
Isha Berry [00:30:49] Mm hmm. Yeah. And so I think science, communication and outreaches is so important. And at the end of the day, you know, public health is really meant for the public. It's what we're doing. It needs to be understood by the people that are going to be benefiting from what we're doing and to science. Outreach is really, really important in communication, science communication, in ensuring that what we're, you know, learning, researching, finding out can be applied and used to improve population, health and wellbeing by everybody. And so so for science communication. And I think being able to communicate uncertainty is, is really difficult. And I think a good analogy here is when we think about weather forecasting, for instance. So yeah, like when we when you think about weather and the weather community has relayed information to the public, it's changed a lot over time. You know, on the news, we don't really hear someone saying, well, you know, the weather man, the weather woman, the weather person saying there's an X percent drop in barometric pressure. You know, they'll explain it. They'll say.
Ophelia Michaelides [00:31:53] Blank faces. If they did.
Isha Berry [00:31:56] You know, you'd be like, okay, cool. So you'll hear something explained as we have an X pressure system moving, which means that you can expect heavy rains this afternoon that could result in high winds enough to knock over a garbage can. You know, that painting, that picture is science communication. And I think that's kind of the essence of what I hope and I think is a growing change in mathematical modeling and in science communication for disease transmission dynamics. And the pandemic has really exemplified this, and I think it has an important role moving forward as well. So when we think about, you know, someone showing some models and saying you need to reduce your contacts by 20%, I don't know. I don't I don't think that is the most interpretable. Right. But if you kind of say to someone, well, model X assumes that everyone's going to work five days a week. And you can see in Model Y if we assume a 20% reduction in contacts. So for instance, dropping your in-person work days from 5 to 4 days a week, you'll see this percent reduction in cases that that painting, that picture using everyday context is so important in science communication. And I think that's kind of why I really like it. And I think it's so important to our roles as scientists, but also it doesn't have to be one person's job to do everything, you know, in the same person building the model may not be able to then also explain it in abstract terms for a general audience. So really, I think when we think about the public health and disease transmission, we think about communicating all of that information to general audiences for uptake. It's really important to bring in people that have that expertize. So professionalizing that communication role, whether that's, you know, through people like advertisers who can really sell things to the community or other communication experts. I think it's such an important skill and and such a...such a critical role for science in science communication.
Ophelia Michaelides [00:34:04] The issue, I think you bring up fantastic points around, you know, making making public health knowledge meaningful right to to the public. I love what you said around public health is for the public. It's for people. And so I think a lot of the you know, the approaches that you identify are are very valid and, you know, quite promising. But again, like most things, it it's not there is no one magic bullet to a, you know, a challenge. There are many. And I think you listed quite a few of them that are very feasible and within reach and I think, you know, are already starting to evolve or have evolved even just, you know, in our collective COVID experience over the last, you know, one and a half years. Isha, I want to thank you so much for sharing your insights today and of course, your very important research that reminds us of how our health continues to be interconnected with the health of our environment, of animals, of our food systems and all the things that, you know, that we share in our lives. And so with that, I really want to thank you for being on the episode today, and I want to say thank you for that.
Isha Berry [00:35:20] Thank you so much for having me. It was a pleasure to talk to you. And no it's really exciting to see sort of gaining interest and understanding about our connections with animals and environments and food systems and the importance of that and, you know, improving population well-being. It's it's really exciting. So thank you again for having me.
Ophelia Michaelides [00:35:41] Likewise, Isha. Thank you.
Ophelia Michaelides [00:35:50] The conversations with their speakers today have shed light on the intricate relationship between our changing ecosystem and the increasing emergence of transmission of zoonotic diseases. Dr. Mubaraka highlighted examples of how human drivers are largely behind tsunami disease spillover and in the increasing importance of emphasizing the human animal interface. In research, her research anticipates that changing climatic conditions will become more and more favorable for facilitating viral enhancement through changes in the ecosystem, enabling greater surveillance and public health response efforts on a global scale. Along with sharing data and health, intelligence is necessary to mitigate future risk. Our discussion also focused on acknowledging that although we can't predict what a novel disease will emerge, we can address risk factors that contribute to zoonotic disease, emergence and transmission through sustainable means, as highlighted by Isha Berry, it's important to recognize that food systems all over the globe are areas of potential zoonotic infection and that the focus should aim to make these interfaces safer and more sustainable. Using approaches like the One Health Framework can support optimal health by incorporating expert opinions from different sectors to identify relevant solutions. Furthermore, effective science communication is an important tool for translating data trends into actionable solutions for the public.
Ophelia Michaelides [00:37:14] Healthy cities in the SDG era is made with the support of the School of Cities at the University of Toronto, whose mission is to bring urban focused researchers, educators, students, practitioners and the public together to explore and address complex urban challenges. We would love to hear your thoughts on healthy cities in the SDG era. If you enjoyed this episode, please rate, subscribe and share. To help others find the series, you can find healthy cities in the SDG era on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and the Dalla Lana School of Public Health YouTube page, as well as our Center for Global Health's website. Join us for our next episode where we'll look at SDG six Clean Water and Sanitation. Thank you for tuning in and we look forward to speaking soon. Take care.