Africa / Animal Health / Disease Control / Epidemiology / ILRI / RVF

‘Zoonoses’–diseases that pass from animals to humans–are again making headlines

Dynamic Drivers of Disease in Africa Consortium logo

An initiative called the Dynamic Drivers of Disease in Africa Consortium, which is hosted by the UK’s STEPS Centre, at the Institute of Development Studies, in Brighton, issued a news release today regarding the science and poverty implications of transmissions of animal-to-human diseases. This comes upon reports by UK officials this week of a the appearance of a new strain of a SARS-like virus.

The SARS virus, which causes serious respiratory illness, is derived from bats. It spread globally in 2002–3, killing hundreds of people.

‘More than 60 per cent of emerging infectious diseases in humans over the past few decades have jumped species from animals to humans. Some quietly devastate poor people’s lives and their livelihoods; others have the potential to create dangerous global threats.

‘World-class scientists from the Dynamic Drivers of Disease in Africa Consortium are available to comment on both the science of animal-to-human disease transmission and the poverty implications of these emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases. Drivers of Disease is an interdisciplinary international research programme exploring the links between zoonoses, ecosystems and wellbeing. Our experts include:

‘Melissa Leach
‘Director of the STEPS Centre and of the Drivers of Disease Consortium is a social anthropologist specialising in environmental and science-society issues. Her recent work considers policy responses to Avian flu, H1N1 (‘Swine flu’) and other epidemics. She co-edited Epidemics – Science, Governance and Social Justice (2010). She can speak on the poverty impacts of zoonoses and the implications for policymakers.

‘James Wood
‘Alborada Professor of Equine and Farm Animal Science at Cambridge University. He is an expert on the processes underlying emergence of infectious diseases, particularly the emergence of virus infections from bats and how they might spread to domestic animals and humans. His work is focused in West Africa. He can speak on the processes and routes of zoonotic disease transmission.

‘Delia Grace
‘Veterinary epidemiologist [leading] work at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Nairobi on interactions between agriculture and human health. She recently co-authored a major mapping study, Mapping of Poverty and Likely Zoonoses Hotspots (2012) which identified 13 zoonotic diseases which together cause 2.4 billion cases of human illness and 2.2 million deaths each year, mainly among the world’s poorest people.

Notes
For interviews or further information, contact n.marks[at]ids.ac.uk or c.holley[at]ids.ac.uk. Out of hours, tel 07881 456498.

Dynamic Drivers of Disease in Africa Consortium
is a research programme designed to deliver much-needed cutting-edge science on the relationships between ecosystems, zoonoses, health and wellbeing, with the objective of moving people out of poverty and promoting social justice. The three-and-a-half-year, £3.2m Consortium is focusing on four emerging or re-emerging emerging zoonotic diseases in four diverse African ecosystems. . . . The work is funded with support from the Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation Programme (ESPA). . . .

STEPS Centre (Social, Technological and Environmental Pathways to Sustainability)
is an interdisciplinary global research and policy engagement centre uniting development studies with science and technology studies. We are developing a new approach to understanding and action on sustainability and development and are funded by the ESRC. Twitter: @stepscentre

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