James H. Steele, DVM, MPH, considered by many as the doyen of veterinary medical public health in the 20th and early 21st centuries, died November 10, 2013 in Houston, Texas.
Dr. Steele received his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree (D.V.M.) from Michigan State College in 1941 and a Master’s of Public Health (M.P.H.) from Harvard University in 1942. He established the veterinary division of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 1947. Steele pioneered introduction of the principles of veterinary public health to the U.S. and countries around the globe. His outstanding achievements have helped save countless human and animal lives and have encouraged the world public health communities to realize higher standards of living through a better understanding of the epidemiology of infectious diseases transmissible from animals to humans, i.e. zoonoses. As a U.S. Public Health Service officer, Steele became the first Assistant Surgeon General for Veterinary Affairs and was later appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health & Human Services with the rank of Admiral (two stars). He has received numerous awards over his distinguished career including the Surgeon General’s Medallion in 2006, presented by then Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona, MD, MPH, a physician.
Steele’s public health achievements included his contributions to the One Health movement. In 2007, at the age of 94, he was a co-author of “Confronting zoonoses through closer collaboration between medicine and veterinary medicine (as ‘One Medicine’)” in the Veterinaria Italiana journal http://www.izs.it/vet_italiana/2007/43_1/5_19.pdf. The senior author Laura H. Kahn, MD, MPH, MPP http://www.onehealthinitiative.com/publications/Laura%20Kahn%20Biography%20Jan2012.pdf is a worldwide One Health leader and recognized expert on the subject. Dr. Kahn is a physician and one of the founding members of the One Health Initiative Autonomous pro bono team. Steele’s encyclopedic memory and knowledge of historic events and people of past decades was an invaluable resource for enhancing the accuracy and value of this article.
Among Steele’s numerous co-authored and co-edited book publications, will be the 3rd Edition of the authoritative text “Zoonotic Tuberculosis: Mycobacterium bovis and other pathogenic mycobacteria by Charles O. Thoen, DVM, PhD http://vetmed.iastate.edu/users/cthoen, James H. Steele, DVM, MPH, and John B. Kaneene, DVM, PhD http://cvm.msu.edu/research/research-centers/center-for-comparative-epidemiology-1/personnel/faculty/john-b-kaneene, in press this year (2013). Mycobacterium bovis infection is an important global animal and public health problem. Past book editions have become “the de facto standard resource for up-to-date information regarding this [zoonotic] disease.” It will incorporate the visionary theme of One Health and utilization of One Health principles for prevention and control. Dr. Thoen is also a prominent One Health leader, supporter and advocate http://www.onehealthinitiative.com/supporters.php. He is currently the President of the American Veterinary Epidemiology Society (AVES), founded by Steele in 1964.
The late public health intellectual giant, Calvin Schwabe, DVM, DSc coined the earlier term for One Health, i.e. “One Medicine” http://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/onehealth/local-assets/pdfs/schwabe_coins_onemedicine#schwabe_coins_onemedicine and originally championed the concept in the 20th century. In addition to Dr. Schwabe, Dr. Steele was one of several dynamic, visionary public health veterinarians and physicians (several in both professions being unsung heroes as well as other health scientists), to help integrate ‘veterinary public health’ into the vocabulary of human health significance as it coincides with animal and environmental health. Steele has been referred to by many as the “father of veterinary public health”—worldwide.
Steele’s official biography is available entitled “One Man, One Medicine, One Health: The James H. Steele Story” http://www.amazon.com/One-Man-Medicine-Health-Steele/dp/1439240043 by prominent veterinarian and his close friend, Craig N. Carter, DVM, PhD http://www.lddc.uky.edu/people/ccarter.asp. All proceeds of sales go to the Steele student endowments at the University of Texas School of Public Health. Drs. Steele and Carter have served as distinguished members of the One Health Initiative team’s Honorary Advisory Board http://www.onehealthinitiative.com/advBoard.php.
On a personal note: Jim Steele was a longstanding valued friend, confidant and colleague since 1962; he shall be missed. I spoke with Jim on many occasions over the years. Indeed, we spoke by telephone on a monthly basis over the last 15 plus years, primarily pertaining to One Health and public health issues, among others. As our other physician One Health Initiative team colleague, Tom Monath, MD said, “Jim had an unbelievably long and remarkable life. His spirit and accomplishments will live on.” –-Bruce Kaplan, DVM
One Health Initiative Autonomous pro bono Team: Laura H. Kahn, MD, MPH, MPP ▪ Bruce Kaplan, DVM ▪ Thomas P. Monath, MD ▪ Jack Woodall, PhD ▪ Lisa A. Conti, DVM, MPH
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Note: Notice originally posted on One Health Initiative website November 12, 2013