The complex relationship between human health, animal populations and the environmental contexts in which they intersect, directly or through the food chain, is the cornerstone of the veterinary public health (Sanità Pubblica veterinaria, SPV) activity and the areas of veterinary medicine which contribute most to human health and well-being.
It covers multiple aspects of the human / animal relationship, such as: animal health and welfare, the development and management of veterinary drugs, veterinary intervention in the event of disasters, veterinary urban hygiene, health management of wildlife. Therefore, the SPV is a decisive component of the unitary vision of the concept of health which takes the name of One Health, a modern conception of the relationships between human, animal and environmental health.
Zoonoses, or diseases communicable from animals to humans, are one of the most consolidated areas of SPV. Over 70% of emerging human diseases have a zoonotic origin. They range from "historical" diseases such as rabies and salmonellosis, to diseases that have emerged in recent decades (ebola, SARS, HIV / AIDS, resulting from the monkey immunodeficiency virus, hepatitis E, prion diseases). The interdisciplinary approach of One Health is crucial for the study and management of zoonoses.
Priority activities of the Istituto Superiore di Sanità (ISS, the National Institute of Health in Italy) are research on the etiology, pathogenesis and epidemiology of zoonoses, in particular of those with food and vector transmission, and integrated medical-veterinary surveillance systems, also in collaboration with experimental zooprophylactic institutes. Important aspects of the ISS activity in the SPV are also the integrated approach to antibiotic resistance and the safety of veterinary drugs and feed, on which the healthiness of food of animal origin depends.
Other activities concern animal experimentation and its alternatives with the development of innovative experimental models, also in accordance with the principle of 3R (Replacement, Reduction, Refinement) and the technical-scientific evaluation activity regarding the welfare of the animals being tested.