For a long time, we have known that there is a close connection between animal health and human health. Especially with the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, we have seen an example of this with very serious health and economic consequences for most countries in the world. The One Health approach gives us a key to understanding the happenings and the article Corona, infection between animals and humans and One Health (in Norwegian) on NMBU's website explains some of it. Zoonoses can be transmitted both from animals to humans and from humans to animals, although infection from animals to humans receives the most attention.
Within HUNT One Health, we will try to look at health in a broad sense. Apart from the fact that infections can be spread between humans/animals/environment, we also know that it can be beneficial to have animal contact for humans for both physical and mental health. Pets and domestic animals make up a significant part of the microbial environment we live in on a daily basis, and what we call microbiome or microbiota reflects the whole microbial environment created by humans, domestic animals, pets and wild animals. The whole complex interaction of these gives us our microbiome which is involved and affects health in a broad sense.
For many people, the daily contact with animals is crucial to experiencing a meaningful life. Taking responsibility for animals develops our empathy, and many people experience their nature activities together with their animals - whether they are pets, grazing animals or wild animals. Without animals around us humans, many of us would experience loneliness.
Many studies have shown that children with early exposure to animals are less likely to develop allergies later in life. Why this happens is debated but obviously the microbiome in the stomach/gut, saliva and skin must have something to do with this. There is a lot of research left until we understand this.