One Health Manual on Handling Disease Outbreaks in Malaysia

In the past few decades, several emerging infectious and zoonotic disease outbreaks have occurred at an unprecedented rate, resulting in suffering and the death of human and animals, and an enormous financial burden on society. The unique nature of emerging infectious and zoonotic diseases requires rigorous procedures in outbreak investigation involving a multidisciplinary team — a team of many individuals from different specialties and expertise to collaborate together as one, the goal of One Health.

Outbreak investigations are not only important for immediate identification of the source of the outbreak but also to prevent future outbreaks by increasing the knowledge and skills of the people involved in the investigations. Outbreak investigation provide a unique opportunity for collaboration, training, and cooperation between people with different disciplines. The importance of this collaboration cannot be emphasized enough since collaboration increases strategic thinking and effectiveness, optimizes resources, breaks down the practice and mentality of working in silos. It also fosters the creation of new networks and the expansion of existing networks among professionals through multidisciplinary communication, cooperation, and collaboration.

With the financial support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) One Health Workforce project, and in collaboration with the University of Minnesota and Tuft University, a multidisciplinary team consisting of members of the Malaysia One Health University Network (MyOHUN) created the One Health Manual: Handling Disease Outbreaks in Malaysia. The creation of this manual provides us with the opportunity to understand our invaluable roles in zoonotic disease prevention and control. This manual is not meant to replace existing manuals or standard operating procedures, but rather, to complement and provide opportunities for field workers to consider all aspects of disease control. It is hoped that this manual will address, to some extent, the numerous issues and barriers related to the implementation of One Health, thereby bridging the gap between concept and implementation.

Users of this Manual should first read the introduction to gain a quick understanding of the One Health Paradigm, as well as its history and development. The six chapters of the manual cover the following topics: (1) Preparations for outbreak investigation, (2) Establish and verify the diagnosis of zoonotic diseases, (3) Laboratory involvement, (4) Developing, evaluating and refining hypotheses, (5) Implementation of control measures, and (6) Communication during outbreak investigations. The authors have done their best to address the topics based on the One Health concept.

Considering this user-friendly multidisciplinary One Health manual on handling disease outbreaks is the first of its kind, we look forward to receiving feedback and suggestions for improvement in future editions, and to provide an avenue to educate the existing and future One Health workforce.

Please contact nco@myohun.com for more information. The complete manual is available to download on Google Play.