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Hotspots of human-animal infectious diseases mapped

Nairobi, Kenya: Thirteen zoonoses are responsible for 2.4 billion cases of human illness and 2.2 million deaths per year, observed a study conducted by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), the Institute of Zoology (UK) and the Hanoi School of Public Health in Vietnam. Researchers mapped poverty, livestock-keeping and the diseases humans get from animals, and presented a “top 20” list of geographical hotspots.

“From cyst-causing tapeworms to avian flu, zoonoses present a major threat to human and animal health,” said Delia Grace, a veterinary epidemiologist and food safety expert with ILRI in Kenya and lead author of the study. “Targeting the diseases in the hardest hit countries is crucial to protecting global health as well as to reducing severe levels of poverty and illness among the world’s one billion poor livestock keepers.”

“Exploding global demand for livestock products is likely to fuel the spread of a wide range of human-animal infectious diseases,” Grace added.

According to the study, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Tanzania in Africa, as well as India in Asia, have the highest zoonotic disease burdens, with widespread illness and death. Meanwhile, the northeastern United States, Western Europe (especially the United Kingdom), Brazil and parts of Southeast Asia may be hotspots of “emerging zoonoses”—those that are newly infecting humans, are newly virulent, or have newly become drug resistant. The study examined the likely impacts of livestock intensification and climate change on the 13 zoonotic diseases currently causing the greatest harm to the world’s poor.

The report, Mapping of Poverty and Likely Zoonoses Hotspots, was developed with support from the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID). The goal of the research was to identify areas where better control of zoonotic diseases would most benefit poor people.

Source: Science Codex