Sunday, December 15, 2013

Stopping disease swaps between humans and animals

Dana MacLean in IRIN: With more than half of all human infections originating in animals, experts say a multi-sectoral, global response to zoonoses - diseases passing between animals and humans - is urgently needed. IRIN talked to a panel of experts to learn just how deadly humans and animals can be to one another, and ultimately how each can save the other.

“By neglecting the health of animals and ecosystems, we fail to recognize that human health is inextricably linked with animal and ecosystem health,” said Laura H. Kahn, a physician and researcher at Princeton University in the US. Khan co-founded the One Health Initiative, which links human health to how well animals and the ecosystem fare.

With almost half of the some 1,000 pathogen species found in livestock and animals kept as pets able to cross over into humans, poor animal health undoubtedly increases the risk of poor human health, experts warn.

Known zoonoses cause an estimated 2.3 billion cases of sickness and 1.7 million human deaths annually, reported the Nairobi-headquartered International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in 2012. But then there are the unknown viruses, which are estimated to number at least 320,000, according to calculations by Simon Anthony and co-researchers published in 2013.

...A good part of zoonoses (some 70 percent of which come from wildlife) are directly attributable to human actions that have vastly changed animal environments, decreasing animals’ resilience against infection and boosting the risk of humans falling ill....

A livestock market in Buenos Aries, shot by Jorge Royan, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

No comments: