This transmission electron micrograph (TEM) depicted a number of Nipah virus virions that had been isolated from a patient’s cerebrospinal fluid. Nipah virus, related but not identical to Hendra virus, was initially isolated in 1999 upon examining samples from an outbreak of encephalitis and respiratory illness among adult men in Malaysia and Singapore (image credit: Microbe World/Cynthia Goldsmith, Centers for Disease Control).
‘Only 13 diseases or infections transmitted from animals to humans like tuberculosis (TB) and Rift Valley fever, are responsible for around 2.4 billion cases of human illness and 2.2 million deaths per year, mostly in low- and middle-income countries.
‘In the least developed countries, 20 percent of human sickness and death was due to zoonoses—diseases that had recently jumped species from animals to people—according to a new study by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), based in Nairobi, Kenya, the Institute of Zoology in Britain, and the Hanoi School of Public Health in Vietnam.
‘The World Health Organization (WHO) has noted that at least 61 percent of all human diseases, and 75 percent of emerging infectious diseases, are zoonotic or caused by a bacterium, virus, fungus or other communicable disease agent picked up from an animal source.
‘While zoonoses can be transmitted to people by either wild or domesticated animals . . . most human infections are acquired from the world’s 24 billion livestock, including pigs, poultry, cattle, goats, sheep and camels. . . .
‘The goal of the research was to identify areas where better control of zoonotic diseases would most benefit poor people. . . .
‘One of the biggest threats is posed by the booming trade in poultry and pigs. Ongoing research is being led by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), which is part of a global research network funded partly by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).
Historically, high-density pig and poultry populations have been important in maintaining and mixing influenza populations,” said John McDermott, director of the CGIAR Research Programme on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health.
A major concern is that as new livestock systems intensify, particularly in small- and medium-sized pig production, more intensive systems will allow the maintenance and transmission of pathogens. A number of new zoonoses, such as Nipah virus infections, have emerged in that way.” . . .
‘”For sure, there are both benefits and harms associated with producing any food type. It is important to factor in the cost of disease when assessing the benefits of more livestock, and to support systems which are “disease-proofed”—that is, designed in such a way as to minimize disease risks,” [ILRI’s Delia Grace] noted. . . .’
Read the whole article at IRIN: More milk and meat at a price, 5 Jul 2012.
‘A global study mapping human diseases that come from animals like tuberculosis, AIDS, bird flu or Rift Valley fever has found that just 13 such diseases are responsible for 2.4 billion cases of human illness and 2.2 million deaths a year.
‘The vast majority of infections and deaths from so-called zoonotic diseases are in poor or middle-income countries, but “hotspots” are also cropping up in the United States and Europe where diseases are newly infecting humans, becoming particularly virulent, or are developing drug resistance.
‘And exploding global demand for livestock products means the problem is likely to get worse, researchers said. . . .
The study, conducted by the ILRI, the Institute of Zoology in Britain and the Hanoi School of Public Health in Vietnam, mapped livestock-keeping and diseases humans get from animals, and drew up a list of the top 20 geographical hotspots.
It found that Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Tanzania, as well as India have the highest zoonotic disease burdens, with widespread illness and death.
John McDermott, director of the CGIAR research program on agriculture for nutrition and health led by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), said that in booming livestock sectors in developing nations the fastest growing areas are poultry and pigs—putting the potential disease risk emphasis on flu.
“Historically, high-density pig and poultry populations have been important in maintaining and mixing influenza populations,” he said in a statement accompanying the study.
“A major concern is that as new livestock systems intensify, particularly small- and medium-sized pig production … more intensive systems will allow the maintenance and transmission of pathogens. A number of new zoonoses … have emerged in that way.”‘
Read the whole article at Reuters: Diseases from animals hit over 2 billion people a year, 5 Jul 2012.
Read the whole report: Mapping of poverty and likely zoonoses hotspots, report to the UK Department for International Development by Delia Grace et al., ILRI, Institute of Zoology, Hanoi School of Public Health, 2012.
Read about the report in an article in Nature: Cost of human-animal disease greatest for world’s poor, 5 Jul 2012. Nature doi:10.1038/nature.2012.10953