Journal of Social, Behavioral, and Health Sciences


The transmission of zoonotic diseases from wild and domestic animals to human beings is considered a global public health threat. Developing guidelines to establish communication between and among animal health and health public agencies is paramount. Constant monitoring of the exchange of information and the reporting of zoonotic disease episodes constitute effective surveillance techniques. However, past research has indicated that communication and reporting methods vary widely among U.S. states, with some states having minimal or no collaboration between and among animal health professionals and public health agencies. Therefore, guided by a social network theory, the current research examined whether communication structures and the assignment of roles and responsibilities between and among agencies had improved since a prior survey was conducted in 2005. Survey research was used to gather data from 41 state animal health officials and state public health veterinarians. Chi-square and Fisher’s Exact Test analyses identified a significant increase in frequency of meetings and satisfaction in communications since 2005. In addition, roles and responsibilities of the agencies as well as the agencies themselves were determined to have become more clearly defined. Based upon the analyses, the findings indicate that the perception of partnership and communication between and among animal and public health agencies has improved since 2005 with regard to zoonotic disease surveillance and reporting. This study reviewed these findings and placed them in the context of enhancing social change initiatives through improved communication, surveillance, and reporting between and among animal health officials. Finally, limitations of the study are discussed, and recommendations for action and future research are offered.