Hippocrates and One Health
Our guide in this journey through Veterinary Science could not be anyone other than Dr Hippocrates. Putting aside the literal meaning of the name of the famous ancient Greek physician (“Hippo” meaning “horse”, and “crates” meaning = “he who holds” or “tames”), the reference to the father of medicine seemed rather unavoidable, since it denotes the close link and the immediate association between human and veterinary medicine, which today has become the basis of Animal and Public Health Protection through the One Health concept.
Clearly the two fields of Medicine, i.e. human and veterinary went hand-to-hand for many centuries. Let’s not forget that dissecting the human body, which was necessary for the study of human anatomy, was in many cases considered a sacrilege; hence training to become a medical doctor was unavoidably combined with studying animal anatomy and physiology, and of course this didn’t stop there! Probably the first scientific text in Veterinary Medicine, Hippiatrika (“hippo” meaning “horse”, and “iatrika” meaning “those referring to medicine”), which appears in Eastern Roman Empire around 5th– 6th century A.D. was most likely a compilation of records, many of which were probably written by Hippocrates or his students.
At a time when people believed that diseases were the gods’ way of punishing humans for their sins, Hippocrates suggested the holistic approach as the basis of treating all diseases: healthy food, clean air, rest and good hygiene, i.e. One Health introduced 25 centuries ago!