Science

Study maps hotspots of human-animal infections

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on July 05, 2012 Published on July 05, 2012




Mad-cow, bird-flu or swine-flu - the world is more than familiar with “human-animal diseases”.

A global study mapping these diseases, that jump species from animal hosts to humans, found that an “unlucky” 13 zoonoses were responsible for 2.4 billion cases of human illness and 2.2 million deaths per year. And this was largely in low and middle-income countries.

The study, conducted by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), the Institute of Zoology (UK) and the Hanoi School of Public Health in Vietnam, maps poverty, livestock-keeping and the diseases humans get from animals.

India, along with African nations Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Tanzania have the highest zoonotic disease burdens, with widespread illness and death, the study said. Significantly, northeastern United States, Western Europe (especially the United Kingdom), Brazil and parts of Southeast Asia could become “hotspots of emerging zoonoses” – those that are newly infecting humans, are newly virulent, or have newly become drug resistant.

“From cyst-causing tapeworms to avian flu, zoonoses present a major threat to human and animal health,” said Ms Delia Grace, a veterinary epidemiologist with ILRI (Kenya) and lead author of the study. Targeting these diseases in the hardest hit countries is crucial to protect global health, besides reducing poverty-levels and illness among the world’s one billion poor livestock keepers, she said. The most rapid changes in pig and poultry farming are expected in Burkina Faso and Ghana in Africa and India, Myanmar and Pakistan, the study said. And this is intensifying more rapidly than other farm commodity sectors, with more animals being raised in more concentrated spaces, raising the risk of disease spread, it added.

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Published on July 05, 2012
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