Introduction / Background

Zoonoses and antimicrobial resistance (AMR) continue to be significant impediments to human and animal health and to socioeconomic development worldwide [1], [2], [3]. National and international surveillance systems and monitoring programmes for zoonoses, zoonotic agents and AMR are means to combat these impediments. It is generally recognized that human and animal health are interconnected and that the transmission of zoonoses and AMR can essentially take place through various links of the human-animal interface e.g. the environment or food [4], [5]. This implies that surveillance cannot be addressed by the human or animal sector alone, but instead have to be a multisectoral and multidisciplinary collaboration [6]. This approach to collaboration is referred to as One Health. The benefits and importance of One Health Surveillance (OHS) are widely accepted, however, there are still gaps in surveillance or surveillance data that hinder a truly integrated OHS approach.

Within the EU, EFSA and ECDC have made substantial efforts to harmonize data collection and reporting within their sectors. These achievements are important assets for future OHS harmonization efforts, for example the Data Collection Framework (DCF [7]) and the SIGMA project (SIGMA [8]) from EFSA, as well as the European Surveillance System (TESSy [9]) from ECDC. Other ongoing joint efforts of these stakeholders support OHS data harmonization as well, for example the joint molecular typing database [10]. Another collaborative effort is the compilation of the yearly European Summary Reports (EUSRs) on trends and sources of zoonoses, zoonotic agents and food-borne outbreaks and on antimicrobial resistance in zoonotic and indicator bacteria from humans, animals and food (URL: However, the current practice of provisioning OHS data in reports could be improved, specifically when it comes to national or research data not covered by European legislation. Moreover, no generic strategy for surveillance data reporting is currently available that could be adopted by all OHS related scientific disciplines including e.g. environmental science.

The Joint Integrative Project (JIP) “One health suRveillance Initiative on harmOnization of data collection and interpretatioN” (ORION) aims at establishing and strengthening inter-institutional collaboration and transdisciplinary knowledge transfer in the area of One Health Surveillance (OHS) data integration and interpretation. Detailed requirement analyses were performed within ORION to identify current best practices, resources and needs within the OHS community [11]. Results from the requirement analyses confirmed that cross-sectoral and multi-disciplinary communication, collaboration and knowledge exchange are still significant challenges for the European OHS community. In addition, the results reinforced the need for better harmonization of reports on OHS data, which could ultimately lead to improved mutual understanding and use of sector-specific data in future OH analysis.

This OHS Codex therefore aims at establishing a high-level framework that supports collaboration, mutual understanding, knowledge exchange, data interoperability and coordination between OH sectors that will support integrated OHS data analyses, data interpretation and OH decission making.


The purpose of this OHS Codex is to provide users with guidance and resources, e.g. tools, technical solutions, guidance documents, that support the design and planning of OH surveillance and monitoring activities as well as OH-driven data analysis and interpretation by the different OHS sectors. With that, the OHS Codex supports the ambitions outlined in chapter 3, 4, and 5.1 to 5.3 of the FAO, OIE and WHO document ‘Taking a Multisectoral, One Health Approach: A Tripartite Guide to Addressing Zoonotic Diseases in Countries” [12] (Tripartite Guide) by proposing specific resources that support putting a true One Health approach (as described in the Tripartite Guide) into practice in Europe.

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Fig. 1: Connection between the Tripartite Guide and the four principles of the OHS Codex. The OHS Codex principles and their dimensions are indicated by coloured arrows. The icons correspond to the guiding icons from the Tripartite Guide.

Target community, main stakeholders and organizations

According to the understanding of the authors elements of the OHS Codex will be useful for

organizations or researchers that are involved in

  • One Health surveillance implementation
  • One Health surveillance data reporting
  • One Health data harmonization and standardization
  • Cross-sector risk management

Specifically, this includes

  • the EJP consortium and their follow up organization
  • national authorities in Europe involved in OHS
  • European authorities and institutes, as e.g. EFSA, ECDC, EEA
  • other stakeholders in OHS, as e.g. research organizations


The scope of the OHS Codex is to provide a framework to embrace different tools and methods that can enhance OHS data generation, analyses and interpretation. Currently, it is structured according to four core principles that were jointly defined by EJP-ORION project members as critical for achieving this objective. The OHS Codex framework has the potential to be expanded by more principles in the future in case the scope / objective is broadened. In this case the OHS Codex could become a comprehensive hub of tools for OHS improvement.

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Fig. 2: The overview of the OHS Codex framework


The OHS Codex framework is structured by four main principles, identified by ORION as four main areas, where cross-sector understanding and information exchange could be improved. The Codex describes each principle and within each provides solutions & methods available to organisations & researchers, who want to enhance OHS within each principle. The methods and tools included from the onset in the Codex were developed and tested within the EJP ORION project. However, the OHS Codex is designed as an updatable online resource that can be continuously expanded when new useful methods & solutions become available.


[1]“Zoonotic Diseases: Progress Has Stalled.” European Food Safety Authority, 12 Dec. 2018,
[2]“Zoonoses.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, 19 July 2017,
[3]“Antimicrobial Resistance.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization,
[4]A European One Health Action Plan against Antimicrobial Resistance
[5]Taking a Multisectoral, One Health Approach:A Tripartite Guide to Addressing Zoonotic Diseases in Countries
[6]Taking a Multisectoral, One Health Approach:A Tripartite Guide to Addressing Zoonotic Diseases in Countries
[10]EFSA (European Food Safety Authority), 2014. Technical specifications for the pilot on the collection of data on molecular testing of food-borne pathogens from food, feed and animal samples. EFSA supporting publications 2014;11(12):EN‐712, 58 pp. doi: 10.2903/sp.efsa.2014.EN-712
[11]ORION. (2020, April 16). Deliverable-JIP1-D2.3 Report on requirement analysis for an “OH Knowledge Base – Integration” (ORION). Zenodo.
[12]Taking a Multisectoral, One Health Approach:A Tripartite Guide to Addressing Zoonotic Diseases in Countries