Let us Break the Chain of Zoonotic Transmission
The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates “intimate” linkages between the health of humans, animals and ecosystems, as zoonotic diseases spread between animals and people. We can only prevent future pandemics with an integrated One Health approach to public health, animal health and the environment we share. Now is the time to take our partnership to a new level.Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
Zoonoses or Zoonosis is an infectious disease caused by a pathogen (bacteria, viruses, parasites, etc.) that have jumped from vertebrate animals to humans and vice versa. It can spread through direct contact, vector-borne or foodborne. More than 150 zoonotic diseases are known to exist. The word Zoonoses derived from Greek, where Zoon means animal and noses means Sickness. World Zoonoses Day is a global awareness day observed on 6th July every year. It is on this day in 1885, Louise Pasteur successfully administered the first vaccine against rabies.
In 2021, when it is being observed, the world is battling to cope up with the damage caused by COVID (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic, which is zoonotic. COVID is believed to have been originated in bats and transmitted to humans via pangolins. Already more than 4 million people lost their lives due to COVID. The world has been experiencing zoonotic diseases some of them in the recent past are Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003, H1N1 (‘swine flu’) in 2009, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in 2012, Salmonellosis in 2015 and Ebola in West Africa in 2014-16. Approximately 70 per cent of all emerging and re-emerging pathogens are zoonotic. What is not accounted for and perhaps challenging to do so is the societal impacts of such disease.
Organisations like United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) are working together to highlight the methods to “Prevent the Next Pandemic: Zoonotic diseases and methods to break the chain of transmission”. Further outbreaks will emerge unless governments take active measures to prevent other zoonotic diseases from crossing into the human population.
Environmental change and human behaviour are leading to enhanced zoonotic diseases. Rapid urbanisation and population growth bring people closer to animal species they may never have been near before. There is a need to change our interaction and relationship with animals. Unless we do so, the next disease-X would be threatening to emerge. The ways of growing and consuming food also need a change. Need to invest in an interdisciplinary approach to find solutions, “One Health” is one such.