World Zoonoses Day Highlights Diseases Coming from Animals

Screen Shot 2023-04-01 at 9.09.36 AM

Did you know that 75% of new infectious diseases start in animals? In fact over 200 types of viruses, bacteria and parasites come from animals. World Zoonoses Day calls attention to these often overlooked infectious threats. A zoonosis is a disease that is able to spread from animals to humans. The 2009 swine flu pandemic originated in pigs. Salmonella, one of the most common causes of food poisoning, hospitalizes 26,500 Americans every year.

No country is immune from these risks, and an outbreak in one region increases the chances of an outbreak elsewhere. Everyone has a part to play in preparing for and preventing emerging diseases. Many countries urgently need to expand their capacity to monitor, confirm and report outbreaks. This requires governments and healthcare organizations to expand their laboratory capacity throughout the health system. More well-trained laboratory workers are needed to keep up with this demand.

Factory farming is a major contributor to animal-borne diseases. In the United States, unsanitary conditions and antibiotic overuse have led to the emergence of dangerous pathogens. More responsible agricultural practices and better oversight are an essential piece of the solution.

To learn more, see: New York Times, World Health Organization, Harvard Law School