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Focus: GS-III Environment and Ecology, Prelims

Why in news?

The United Nation Environment Program (UNEP) and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) report says:

  1. Climate change can particularly affect diseases transmitted by insects.
  2. 75 per cent of all emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic.

Details of Climate Change and Transmission of Diseases

  • Warmer temperatures can increase the vector population size and distribution, along with the season duration when infectious vector species are present in the environment.
  • Erratic weather events have an impact in the transmission of diseases as well. For examples: in Africa, an outbreak of Rift Valley fever, a mosquito-borne zoonotic disease, occurred with higher than average seasonal rainfall.
  • The thawing of permafrost in the Arctic and sub-arctic region can significantly transforms soil structures, vegetation and habitats.
  • The thawing of permafrost in the Arctic and sub-arctic region can significantly transforms soil structures, vegetation and habitats.

Details of Increased Zoonotic Disease

  • About 60 per cent of known infectious diseases in humans and 75 per cent of all emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic.
  • Zoonosis or zoonotic disease is a disease that has passed into the human population from an animal source directly or through an intermediary species.
  • Zoonotic infections can be bacterial, viral, or parasitic in nature, with animals playing a vital role in maintaining such infections.
  • Examples of zoonoses include HIV-AIDS, Ebola, Lyme Disease, malaria, rabies, West Nile fever, and the current novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) disease.

Anthropogenic factors and Zoonotic Diseases

The report identified seven anthropogenic driving factors leading to the emergence of zoonotic diseases:

  1. Increased demand for animal protein;
  2. Rise in intense and unsustainable farming;
  3. The increased use and exploitation of wildlife;
  4. Unsustainable utilisation of natural resources;
  5. Travel and transportation
  6. Changes in food supply chains
  7. The climate change crisis.

The growing demand for animal-derived food has encouraged the intensification and industrialisation of animal production, wherein a large number of genetically similar animals are bred in for higher productivity and disease resistance.

  • Intensive farm settings cause them to be raised in close proximity to each other, in less ideal conditions characterised by limited biosecurity and animal husbandry, poor waste management and use of antimicrobials as substitute for these conditions. This makes them more vulnerable to infections, which can further lead to emergence of zoonotic diseases.
  • Loss of forest cover for agricultural purposes such as growing of soy, used as a key constituent of animal feed, is also influencing the emergence of zoonotic diseases by increasing human access to wildlife.
  • High use of antimicrobials in such farm settings is also contributing to the burden of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), which itself is a chronic pandemic of high cumulative damage threating public global public health.
  • The increased use and exploitation of wildlife can bring humans in closer contact with wild animals, thus increasing the risk of zoonotic disease emergence.

Recommendations based on One Health Approach

The report made ten recommendations based on the One Health approach that could aid a coordinated multi-sectoral response to future pandemics. These included:

  1. Raising awareness of zoonotic diseases;
  2. Investing in interdisciplinary approaches, including One Health;
  3. Expanding scientific enquiry into zoonotic diseases;
  4. Improving cost-benefit analyses of interventions to include full-cost accounting of societal impacts of disease;
  5. Strengthening monitoring and regulation practices associated with zoonotic diseases, including food systems;
  6. Incentivising sustainable land management practices and developing alternatives for food security and livelihoods that do not rely on the destruction of habitats and biodiversity;
  7. Improving biosecurity and control, identifying key drivers of emerging diseases in animal husbandry and encouraging proven management and zoonotic disease control measures;
  8. Supporting the sustainable management of landscapes and seascapes that enhance sustainable co-existence of agriculture and wildlife;
  9. Strengthening capacities among health stakeholders in all countries; and
  10. Operationalising the One Health approach in land-use and sustainable development planning, implementation and monitoring, among other fields.

July 6, 2020, celebrated as ‘World Zoonoses Day’.

-Source: Hindustan Times

December 2023