Culling and the Common Good: Re-evaluating Harms and Benefits under the One Health Paradigm
One Health (OH) is a novel paradigm that recognizes that human and non-human animal health is interlinked through our shared environment. Increasingly prominent in public health responses to zoonoses, OH differs from traditional approaches to animal-borne infectious risks, because it also aims to promote the health of animals and ecological systems. Despite the widespread adoption of OH, culling remains a key component of institutional responses to the risks of zoonoses. Using the threats posed by highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses to human and animal health, economic activity and food security as a case exemplar, we explore whether culling and other standard control measures for animal-borne infectious disease might be justified as part of OH approaches. Our central premise is that OH requires us to reformulate 'health' as universal good that is best shared across species boundaries such that human health and well-being are contingent upon identifying and meeting the relevant sets of human and non-human interests and shared dependencies. Our purpose is to further nascent discussions about the ethical dimensions of OH and begin to describe the principles around which a public health agenda that truly seeks to co-promote human and non-human health could potentially begin to be implemented.