Pandemic from animals live threat: Doc

Doctors say the risk of the world’s next pandemic originating from animals is very high. Elaborating on it, infectious diseases expert, Dr Chandra Mohan, says that while there is a lot of focus on swine flu and HIV, little consideration has been given to the known and potential zoonotic infectious diseases of small companion animals.

“Cats and dogs closely share the domestic environment with humans and have the potential to act as sources of a wide spectrum of zoonotic infections,” he said.

Doctors point out that in the last one year alone a new array of diseases has hit the world and almost 75 per cent of these were zoonotic in nature.

Year after year, we see hundreds of thousands of human deaths related to zoonoses diseases, which are transmitted from animals to humans, but experts say there is still limited information about how zoonoses are spread or just how to predict the next outbreak.

Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University vice-chancellor, Dr Prabhakaran, says, “The huge captive livestock is responsible for 50 per cent of global methane emissions leading to climatic change, which in turn, though indirectly, impacts human health.”

Reports of various diseases and food-borne illnesses such as bird and swine flu continuously make news. Every time there are pandemic threats like SARS, H5N1 or H1N1 we shudder simply because we do not know how to tackle them, he pointed out.

“We immediately rush for new vaccines but do not realise that closely packed animal populations will permit viruses to spread rapidly and mutate. Awareness needs to be brought among the public and the national research system needs to be more focused and prepared regarding the zoonotic outbreaks,” he added.

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