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This special issue of Public Health Reports focuses on the important interface between public health and veterinary medicine for improving human health, animal health, and food safety. In 1858, Rudolph Virchow, the father of comparative medicine, stated, “Between animal and human medicine there are no dividing lines—nor should there be. The object is different but the experience obtained constitutes the basis of all medicine.” A reenergized “one world, one health, one medicine” initiative is reflected in this issue that seeks to integrate veterinary medicine with other health sciences and professions to improve public health.
We are copublishing this issue with the Journal of Veterinary Medical Education (JVME), with 10 articles appearing in PHR on this topic and 20 different articles being published simultaneously in JVME's June issue. In addition to these articles, both journals are publishing summaries of three keynote addresses from the 2007 Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges/Association of Schools of Public Health Joint Symposium, which took place in April 2007. The commentaries are authored by former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher, former Acting Surgeon General Dr. Kenneth Moritsugu, and Dr. Lonnie J. King of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The PHR and JVME articles can be accessed gratis to the public at the journals' respective websites: http://www.publichealthreports.org and http://www.jvmeonline.org.
One of the articles in this issue by MacMahon et al. (p. 316) addresses protecting poultry workers from exposure to avian influenza viruses. In a previous career at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), I headed the agency's research program on personal protective equipment (PPE). When selecting the cover photo for this issue, I liked this image immediately, but my first concern was whether or not the respirator is certified by NIOSH (it is) and whether or not the respirator is donned properly (it is). However, it's what the person in the photo isn't wearing that is most troubling. PPE—gloves, disposable outer garments, shoe covers, and eye protection, all of which are recommended by CDC to protect against an outbreak of avian influenza—is integral in controlling exposures. More information and guidance on how to protect people in the event of an outbreak can be found on the following CDC and Occupational Safety and Health Administration websites: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/avian/professional/protect-guid.htm and http://www.osha.gov/OshDoc/data_AvianFlu/avian_flu_guidance_english.pdf.
This issue of PHR also has an important addition: the Surgeon General's Perspectives. The addition of Perspectives coincides with PHR officially transferring back to its original home in the Office of the Surgeon General on October 1, 2007. The Surgeon General's column was last published in PHR in March of 1999, when then U.S. Surgeon General Satcher wrote about suicide as a serious public health problem. In this issue of PHR, the current Acting U.S. Surgeon General, RADM Steven K. Galson, writes about childhood obesity as a major public health concern for America. He makes a call to action for the nation to address this serious public health issue that would reduce the burden of childhood obesity and thereby lessen resultant health effects, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. We look forward to future Surgeon General's Perspectives on important national public health topics in subsequent issues of PHR. (Note: At press time, the next PHR Web cast had been scheduled for April 23 at 3 p.m. EST on the topic of childhood obesity. For additional information on this Web cast, please go to http://www.publichealthreports.org.)
In memoriam: A friend and colleague of many in public health, Mitch Singal, died as the result of an accident while volunteering at a food pantry in May 2007 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. During his 28-year career as a U.S. Public Health Service officer at NIOSH, Mitch made innumerable contributions to public health. He was respected and admired for his compassionate skills in mentoring physicians, epidemiologists, and industrial hygienists at NIOSH—doing so with great passion, dignity, and humor. He contributed to thousands of articles, reports, manuscripts, conference presentations, and NIOSH publications and policy documents, and gave each one thoughtful attention.
In January 2001, after retiring from NIOSH, Mitch generously served PHR as a Contributing and Associate Editor and played an integral role in enhancing the journal's scientific caliber to become the well-respected resource it is today. But Mitch's lasting legacy may be that he set the highest standard for public health's core values of integrity, excellence, and respect for all people. Most certainly, all who knew and interacted with Mitch are better people because of him.