Bill Text: HI HB1891 | 2020 | Regular Session | Amended

Bill Title: Relating To Health.

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Democrat 13-0)

Status: (Engrossed) 2020-05-12 - Report adopted; Passed Second Reading, as amended (SD 1) and referred to WAM. [HB1891 Detail]

Download: Hawaii-2020-HB1891-Amended.html


H.B. NO.



H.D. 1


S.D. 1














     SECTION 1.  The legislature finds that the health of humans and animals are inextricably related a concept that has come to be recognized as the "One Health" approach.  Physicians and veterinarians need to interact and communicate on health issues important to both animals and humans.

     Zoonotic diseases are diseases that are caused by infection from viruses, bacteria, parasites, or fungi, and can spread between animals and people.  These diseases can cause illness of varying severity or even death in people.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that zoonotic diseases are very common and every year tens of thousands of Americans will get sick from them.

     Zoonotic diseases can be transmitted directly or indirectly to humans by consumption of contaminated foodstuffs or contact with infected animals.  Leptospirosis, E. coli infection, methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus infection (MRSA), ringworm, toxoplasmosis, salmonella infection, tuberculosis, H1N1 and H3N2 influenza virus, also known as bird flu or swine flu, brucellosis caused by Brucella suis, and angiostrongyliasis cantonensis, more commonly known as rat lungworm disease, are examples of zoonotic diseases.  Zoonoses are animal diseases that can be transmitted to humans and are very well understood and studied by veterinarians.

     The legislature also finds that in the past, the department of health had a public health veterinarian position that was filled by a doctor of veterinary medicine.  Previously, David Sasaki, a doctor of veterinary medicine and a world expert on leptospirosis, had filled the position and also oversaw the production of public health publications that were distributed to Hawaii physicians and veterinarians.

     The legislature further finds that the public health publications were well-received and helped educate physicians about disease reporting requirements, the prevalence of a number of diseases in the State, and the appropriate treatment for the diseases.  This publication included information on the resistance to or developing resistance to antibiotics of common venereal diseases, including gonorrhea, and information providing a deeper understanding of the risk of animal diseases to humans.

     The legislature additionally finds that many federal health agencies or departments and most state health departments have a position filled by a doctor of veterinary medicine that is typically designated as a public health veterinarian.  Reestablishing a veterinary medical officer position, such as a public health veterinarian, within the department of health will help combat the spread of rat lungworm and other zoonotic diseases in the State's human population and support statewide efforts to protect and improve human health.  A public health veterinarian could also resume public health publications, disseminate those publications in electronic form, and couple the publications with continuing medical education for physicians, nurses, and veterinarians to help ensure the continued competence of the State's health care workforce.

     Reestablishing a public health veterinarian position in the department of health will also help battle the current outbreak of rat lungworm disease in humans, dogs, cats, and horses in the State.  In January of this year (January 5-8, 2020), the sixth international workshop on angiostrongylus and angiostrongyliasis was held in Hilo, Hawaii.  Angiostrongylus cantonensis is the roundworm that causes a disease in humans that invades the brain and causes death and disability.  Angiostrongyliasis refers to the disease caused by the rat lungworm parasite.

     One full session at this recent conference focused on rat lungworm in other animals, principally dogs, and documented how dogs can act as a sentinel for the presence of slugs or snails infected with rat lungworm disease.  There was also discussion about how the diagnosis and treatment of rat lungworm disease in dogs can inform our diagnosis and treatment of the disease in humans.

     The veterinarians who presented at the meeting strongly supported the reestablishment of the position of a state public health veterinarian in Hawaii and felt it could be crucial in addressing the outbreak of rat lungworm disease in both humans and dogs.  Cats and horses have also been affected in Hawaii, albeit with fewer documented cases.  The Hawaii veterinarians who spoke indicated that the Hawaii Veterinarian Association could help find candidates for the position if it was reestablished this legislative session.

     The legislature also recognizes that global warming contributes to the increase of the number and types of viruses, bacteria, parasites, and fungi that are spread between animals and humans, which makes the early detection and study of these vectors and the illnesses they cause imperative to protect public health.

The purpose of this Act is to reestablish and fund one full-time equivalent (1.00 FTE) permanent veterinary medical officer position within the department of health.

     SECTION 2.  Chapter 321, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by adding a new section to be appropriately designated and to read as follows:

"§321-    Veterinary medical officer.  (a)  There is established within the department of health, a veterinary medical officer position to oversee the protection and improvement of human health through measures for the detection, investigation, assessment, prevention, control, and eradication of zoonotic diseases.

     (b)  The veterinary medical officer shall possess a doctor of veterinary medicine degree from a veterinary college meeting all the standards established by the American Veterinary Medical Association and a license to practice veterinary medicine granted pursuant to chapter 471."

     SECTION 3.  There is appropriated out of the general revenues of the State of Hawaii the sum of $95,000 or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2020-2021 for the establishment of one full-time equivalent (1.00 FTE) permanent veterinary medical officer position in the department of health and $15,000 or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2020-2021 for operational costs for the purposes of this Act.

     The sums appropriated shall be expended by the department of health for the purposes of this Act.

     SECTION 4.  New statutory material is underscored.

     SECTION 5.  This Act shall take effect on July 1, 2020.


Report Title:

Veterinary Medical Officer; DOH; Zoonotic Diseases; Appropriation



Establishes and appropriates $110,000 for one full-time equivalent (1.00 FTE) permanent veterinary medical officer position within the department of health and operating costs.  Effective July 1, 2020.  (SD1)




The summary description of legislation appearing on this page is for informational purposes only and is not legislation or evidence of legislative intent.