News / Africa

FAO: Animal to Human Disease More Likely

FAO says expanding agriculture is encroaching on wildlife habitat and increasing risk of animal to human disease threat. FAO / Spaul
FAO says expanding agriculture is encroaching on wildlife habitat and increasing risk of animal to human disease threat. FAO / Spaul

Multimedia

Audio
  • Listen to De Capua report on animal disease threat to humans

Joe DeCapua
About 70 percent of the new diseases that have infected humans in recent decades have come from animals. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization warns it’s getting easier for diseases to make that jump as the population and food-supply chains grow.


The FAO has released a new reported called "World Livestock 2013: Changing Disease Landscapes." It says those landscapes have become “vastly more complicated” by human activity.

“I think that if we continue the state of play, we’ll only see more diseases emerge – more natural resources disappear – and more threats to the human health into the food chain,” said Juan Lubroth, the agency’s chief veterinary officer.

He described conditions as the “perfect microbial storm.”

“We have certain issues such as climate change, particularly humidity and tropical weathers. We have increased globalization, more traffic across the world. People traveling more, more trade. We are encroaching into habitats that previously we as humans did not really know those ecological niches were occupied by other species. But we are invading them.”

He said inadequate healthcare systems and sanitation infrastructure raise the risk of disease in poor areas. And as population grows, livestock production intensifies, which has its own set of risk factors.

“As we intensify livestock production, we have created, let’s say, a monoculture. By using antibiotics, for example, as growth promoters or antibiotics without the supervision of qualified personnel, we do allow for disease resistant organisms to go throughout the herd or throughout the community. And this can, at the end, affect human health,” he said.

Lubroth gave some examples of diseases that have jumped from animals to humans.

“The origin of the human immunodeficiency virus, HIV, which causes AIDS, probably had its precursor in something that we know today to be simian or monkey immunodeficiency virus. And then even more recently, we have the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, which is caused by a corona virus, which likely has an animal origin. We are at the point in research, which we still are trying to find out what origin that is.”

Other diseases that have emerged from animals over the last five to ten years, he says, include the Nipah and Hendra viruses. These are usually found in bats.

“Probably more familiar to your readers or listeners will be the H5N1avian influenza, which in 2003 spread in Southeast Asia. And by 2006 was present in over 60 countries and territories,” he said.

The Food and Agriculture Organization is calling for a holistic approach to meet the growing disease threat. This involves scientists, researchers and doctors and others from many disciplines working together and sharing information.

The report said the holistic approach includes reducing poverty, addressing biological threats posed by globalization and climate change and better safety and health measures in livestock production.

The FAO Chief Veterinary Officer is promoting – what he called – tackling the disease at source.  He said that means snuffing out a potential outbreak at a particular location, village or town before it can spread.

You May Like

Video Video Claims to Show Shi'ite Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

While not yet independently confirmed, brutal killing already has gotten attention of Islamic State followers on social media More

After Six Years, Little Change for Niger Delta's Former Militants

Nigerians who laid down arms in exchange for government amnesty subsidies fear program may end with upcoming presidential elections More

Vietnam Pushes for More Educated Drivers to Curb Road Deaths

Transportation officials hope that making a greater effort to get drivers to learn the rules of the road will reduce fatal crashes More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planeti
X
George Putic
March 04, 2015 8:51 PM
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More