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Humans, Animals and the Environment Glossary

This glossary explains terminology used in the free open online course 'One Health: Connecting Humans, Animals and the Environment'.
© University of Basel

During this course you might meet some terminology with which you are not familiar.

We invite you to ask in the comment section of the respective steps if a term is unclear. Your peers and educators will try to clarify issues. Please do not forget to always ‘like’ queries and questions that you find important.

The following glossary is a beginning. If later in the course you find an unfamiliar term, you might come back here and search for it. When the glossary lacks terms you think would be useful to include, please mention it in the ‘comments’ section of this step; you could even propose a definition. During the course run, the educators shall regularly come back to this step and hopefully our glossary expands in collaboration with you. You may know other useful pages, for instance, the One Health European Joint Programme ORION Knowledge Hub.



added value – an improvement or addition to something that makes it worth more

aetiology – the study of the causes, for example, of a disease

anthrax – infectious bacterial disease caused by Bacillus anthracis, found naturally in soil; commonly affects domestic and wild animals worldwide


Bayesian statistics – a theory in the field of statistics in which the evidence about the true state of the world is expressed in terms of ‘degrees of belief’. Find more information on the site of the International Society for Bayesian Analysis

benefit-cost ratio – a ratio that attempts to summarise overall value for money; value of benefits divided by value of costs

brucellosis – infectious zoonotic disease caused by bacteria from genus Brucella; ruminants, pigs and dogs are commonly affected; transmission to people is through contact with infected animals or animal products


collaboration – a working practice where individuals/groups work together towards a common purpose to achieve mutual goals


differential equation – an equation involving derivatives of a function or functions

disease – Arthur Kleinman shaped the concepts of illness and disease. Disease is regarded as a natural phenomenon (etic view)

distemper – an infectious viral disease affecting mainly dogs, but also ferrets, some primates and large cats; affects respiratory, gastrointestinal and central nervous systems


echinococcosis – a zoonotic disease caused by parasitic tapeworms; humans are accidental intermediate hosts infected through ingestion of parasite eggs in contaminated food, water or soil, or through direct contact with animal hosts

emic – a framework for social analysis which is rooted in the ideologies of local communities, wherein the perspective is internal and perceptional

empirical – based on or verifiable by observation or experience rather than theory or pure logic

endemic – a disease regularly found in a certain area

Eco Health – a community of practice which includes systemic, participatory approaches to understanding and recognises the inextricable linkages between the health of humans and animals and their environment within the social context and tries to demonstrate such linkages using integrated scientific studies

epidemiology – the study of the distribution and determinants of health-related states or events (including disease), and the application of this study to the control of diseases and other health problems

etic – a framework for social analysis which is based on the ideologies of professionals outside of the local communities, such that the perspective is external and observational


fascioliasis – infection with parasitic liver flukes of the genus Fasciola; broad geographic distribution; zoonotic disease with intermediate host freshwater snails

Focus Group Discussion – qualitative method that engages a small number of people in a focused discussion

food safety – the science of providing high quality and safe food all along the chain from production through transformation, storage, and marketing all the way to consumption of food

Foot and Mouth disease – infectious viral disease of cloven-hooved animals; high fever and blisters are typical, and it can be fatal


health economics – a branch of economics concerned with issues related to efficiency, effectiveness, value and behaviour in the production and consumption of health and healthcare

hermeneutic – a method or theory of interpretation


illness – Arthur Kleinman shaped the concepts of illness and disease. Illness is conceptualised as a cultural construction (emic view) of not feeling well

integration – bringing together smaller components into a single system that functions as one

interdisciplinarity – a process which involves combining two or more academic disciplines into one activity (eg a research project) in order to create something new by crossing boundaries and thinking across them

interviews – a popular method of gathering qualitative information. They provide a way of generating empirical data asking people to talk about their lives and experiences


KAP studies – a rapid appraisal method called knowledge, attitude and practice (KAP) study


mathematical model – a description of a system using mathematical concepts and language

matrix – a rectangular array of numbers, symbols, or expressions, arranged in rows and columns

matrix model – a model which uses matrix algebra as shorthand to summarise a large number of computations related to dynamic events

meat inspection – examination of meat intended for human consumption to ensure that it is wholesome and free from diseases that might be transmitted from the animal to humans; may include antemortem examination of the living animal and/or the carcass


observations – one of the most important methods used during qualitative data collection

One Health – any added value in terms of health of humans and animals, financial savings or environmental services achievable by the cooperation of human, veterinary, and environmental health when compared to the sectors working separately


participation – the action of taking part in something

pluralistic – a condition or system in which two or more states, for example, groups, principles or sources of authority, coexist

profitability – the state of yielding a financial profit or gain; often measured by price to earnings ratio

putative – commonly accepted as true


qualitative methods – qualitative research is a broad methodological approach encompassing many research methods. Qualitative methods examine the why and how of decision making, not just what, where, when, or who, and have a strong basis in the field of sociology and anthropology


rinderpest – an infectious viral disease of cattle and other cloven-hooved animals; eradicated since 2011

risk analysis – a science-based, structured, transparent method used to identify and assess factors that may jeopardise the success of a project or achievement of a goal; includes three components: risk assessment, risk management and risk communication


schistosomiasis – a group of diseases caused by flatworm parasites of the genus Schistosoma that infect humans and other mammals; endemic in areas of Africa, Latin America, and Asia; transmitted through contact with contaminated water

sleeping sickness – a parasitic protozoan disease of humans and other mammals; transmitted by tsetse flies; also known as African trypanosomiasis

stakeholder – a party that has an interest in an enterprise

syndrome – a group of symptoms that together are characteristic of a specific disorder or disease


transdisciplinarity – the process through which scientists enter into dialogue and mutual learning with societal stakeholders, such that science becomes part of societal processes, contributes explicit and negotiable values and norms in society and science, and attributes meaning to knowledge for societal problem-solving

transdisciplinary – work conducted by investigators from different disciplines working jointly to create new conceptual, theoretical, methodological, or translational innovations integrated beyond discipline-specific approaches to address a common (real-world) problem and to access knowledge beyond academia, ie from authorities and communities


zoonosis – an infectious disease which can be naturally transmitted between humans and vertebrate animals

© University of Basel
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