Experts warn that animal diseases are on the rise

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Paris (AFP) – With the spread of smallpox around the world, there are fears that the Kovid-19 heel will become hot and that the spread of animal-to-human diseases could lead to another pandemic.

Although zoonotic diseases have been around for thousands of years, they have become more widespread in recent decades as a result of deforestation, mass animal husbandry, climate change, and other human-induced disturbances in the animal kingdom, experts say.

Other diseases transmitted from animals to humans include HIV, Ebola, Zika, SARS, MERS, avian influenza, and bubonic plague.

On Thursday, the World Health Organization said it was still investigating the origin of Covid, but that “the strongest evidence is around the zoonotic infection.”

In the past month, more than 1,000 monkeys have been diagnosed with smallpox worldwide, and the United Nations has warned that the disease could spread to dozens of countries.

Michael Ryan, the World Health Organization’s director of emergency situations, said last week that “this monkey is not only infected with smallpox” – that human-animal interactions have become “unstable”.

“The number of cases of these diseases infecting people is increasing, and then our ability to aggravate the disease and spread it in our communities is increasing,” he said.

Monkeys have not been infected in humans recently – the first human case was detected in the DR Congo in 1970, and since then it has only been detected in parts of Central and West Africa.

Olivier Restif, an epidemiologist at the University of Cambridge, said that despite its name, “the recent epidemic of smallpox has nothing to do with monkeys.”

monkey smallpox John SAEKI AFP / File

Although it was first found in macaques, “zoonotic infections are often transmitted from rodents and epidemics from person to person through contact,” he told AFP.

Will he eat worse?

According to the United Nations Environment Program, about 60 percent of all known human infections are zoonotic, and 75 percent of all new and emerging infectious diseases.

According to Restif, the number of zoonotic pathogens and epidemics has increased over the past few decades due to “population growth, livestock growth and attacks on wildlife.”

“Wild animals have responded to human activity by drastically changing their behavior and migrating from areas where they are declining,” he said.

“Animals with weakened immune systems that hang near people and pets are a reliable way to transmit the pathogen.”

Benjamin Roche, a zoonosis specialist at the French Institute for Development Studies, said deforestation has had a big impact.

The WHO warned that there was
The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned of a “real” threat in countries where rabies has recently spread Cynthia S. Goldsmith Centers for Disease Control and Prevention / AFP / File

“Deforestation reduces biodiversity: we lose animals that naturally regulate viruses, which allows them to spread more easily,” he told AFP.

Worse, a major study published earlier this year warned that climate change was exacerbating the risk of another pandemic.

The study found that when animals escape their natural warming environment, they may encounter other species for the first time and infect them with 10,000 zoonotic viruses, which are believed to be “silently circulating” among wild mammals, the study said.

Greg Albery, a disease ecologist at Georgetown University who co-authored the study, told AFP that “the host pathogen industry is undergoing significant changes.”

– “We must be ready” –

“We need to improve the control of urban and wild animals so that we can determine when a pathogen has passed from one species to another – and we need to be particularly concerned if the host is a city or close to humans,” he said. he said.

“New, potentially dangerous diseases are emerging – we need to be prepared,” said Eric Fevre, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Liverpool in the UK and the International Livestock Research Institute in Kenya.

Hidden threat: 10,000 viruses that can infect humans among wild mammals in tropical forests
Hidden threat: 10,000 viruses that could infect humans “circling silently” among wild mammals in tropical forests Raul ARBOLEDA AFP / File

This includes “focusing on the public health of populations” in remote areas and “better studying the ecology of these natural areas to understand the interaction of different species”.

Restif said “there is no silver bullet – our best bet is to act at all levels to reduce the risks”.

“We need to invest heavily in the ability to provide medical care and testing for bereaved communities around the world so that epidemics can be identified, detected and monitored without delay,” he said.

On Thursday, the WHO Scientific Advisory Group released a preliminary report outlining what to do when a new zoonotic pathogen appears.

It lists the first studies to determine how and where the pathogen can jump in humans, the potential dangers, and the long-term effects on the environment.

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