University of Calgary

Science Cafe



When animals make us sick

By Shaunna Yuzik

Health-care professionals already know that the future health of the human population has a lot to do with what’s going on in the animal kingdom. At the University of Calgary, veterinarians and physicians are working together to ensure that society is able to prepare, prevent, respond and recover from what could be a “perfect zoonotic storm.”

Zoonoses are diseases that can spread between animals and humans and they are a lot more common than one might think.

“The transition of certain diseases between animals and people is a growing concern globally and should be addressed in a forward-looking and multidisciplinary way, before it’s too late,” says Dr. Bonnie Buntain, assistant dean in the U of C’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine.

Our society gains a great deal from interactions with animals. Animals are a source of food, companionship and can even contribute to what we know about ourselves.

“For example, people gain knowledge about diabetes by taking care of diabetic pets and knowledge about how to treat diabetes in people can benefit diabetic pets. It’s time to take knowledge crossovers like these seriously,” says Dr. Melanie Rock, assistant professor in the Community Health Services division of the Faculty of Medicine.

In the next Science Cafe, Buntain and Rock will lead a discussion on this perfect storm: Animals and People—Sharing the Future of our Health.

It takes place on Tuesday, Sept. 25 at The Unicorn Pub, 304 8th Ave S.W. from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Science Cafes, presented by the University of Calgary and TELUS World of Science—Calgary, take place the fourth Tuesday of every month and are free and open to the public. Those interested must be 18 or over to attend.

To learn more or to RSVP, email or phone Shaunna Yuzik at 220-2702 or Erin McDonald at 268-8365.