The wet markets in Wuhan, so far, has been identified as the source of the coronavirus. The incident gives us a warning that many such potential diseases can be transmitted from animals to humans. According to a UN report that was launched on 6th July 2020, there are ways to curb the spread of such viruses.
The report, Preventing the Next Pandemic: Zoonotic diseases and how to break the chain of transmission has identified 7 patterns that are causing the emergence and increase of Zoonotic (Spread from animals to humans) Diseases. The patterns include an increase in global demand for animal meat for protein, unsustainable farming practices, and the global climate crisis. The report sets out to present 10 practical steps that every country can take at the moment, to prevent the spread of such diseases. The steps include Expanding research on zoonotic diseases, improved monitoring systems, regulation of food systems, and incentivizing sustainable land management practices.
The report was published on 6th July, which is also celebrated as Zoonoses Day, to memorialize the work of French biologist Loius Pasteurs, who successfully administered the first vaccine against rabies for a 9-year-old boy, on the same day in 1885.
UNEP Executive Director Inger Anderson said that all facts are clear that if people continue exploiting wildlife and nature, and destroy the ecosystems, there is definitely going to be a sharp increase in zoonotic diseases. The potential of zoonotic diseases to destroy stability has been witnessed by the entire world now, hence we should not ignore the signs. The vulnerable and poor are suffering the most. The environment and wildlife much be protected to avoid such outbreaks.
COVID-19 Latest Example of Such Diseases
The report claims COVID-19 as the latest disease of such kind, including deadly diseases like Ebola, MERS, West Nile Fever. All these diseases are extremely fatal and spread from animal host into humans. The spread has been enhanced by human impacts on the environment. If coronavirus is not taken into account, which has already claimed 500,000 lives, every year 2 million individuals die of zoonotic diseases, most of whom are based in low to middle incomes countries. Ebola virus outbreak in 2014 claimed 11316 lives, Rabies claims 59000 every year.
Seizing Zoonotic Outbreaks
UN Secretary-general Antonio Guterres welcomed the report and said, “To prevent future outbreaks, countries need to conserve wild habitats, promote sustainable agriculture, strengthen food safety standards, monitor and regulate food markets, invest in technology to identify risks, and curb the illegal trade in wildlife".
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