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

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid