Share article:
Share article:

Animal to human virus transmission may increase, UN warns

Credit: Belga

Transmission of viral diseases from animals to humans may increase, the UN warns, if we do not take action now to protect their natural habitats.

These so-called ‘zoonotic diseases’, like the new coronavirus (Covid-19), are already known to kill two million people per year globally. Previous pan- and epidemics such as Ebola, SARS, Zika-virus and the swine flu are all examples of zoonotic diseases.

The warning comes from the UN’s corona-related report published this week, in which the organisation urges to not only look for short-term but also long-term solutions. Its message is to “unite human, animal and environmental health to prevent the next pandemic.”

Related Articles

 

“The rising trend in zoonotic diseases is driven by the degradation of our natural environment – through land degradation, wildlife exploitation, resource extraction, climate change, and other stresses,” according to the UN.

The executive director of the programme, Inger Andersen, said: “In the last century we have seen at least six major outbreaks of novel coronaviruses. Over the last two decades and before Covid-19, zoonotic diseases caused economic damage of $100 billion (€88 billion).”

Andersen added that, globally, “two million people in low- and middle-income countries die each year from neglected endemic zoonotic diseases – such as anthrax, bovine tuberculosis and rabies.”

“These are often communities with complex development problems, high dependence on livestock and proximity to wildlife.”

One of the leading causes of the deterioration of natural habitats is food production. Nature has often had to make way for agriculture and meat farms.

In addition, the increase in traffic and travel has now made it much easier for viruses to spread worldwide.

In the report, several suggestions are made for government policies that could help prevent future pandemics. They include encouraging sustainable development, funding research, and increasing biodiversity.

In the future, Africa has the potential to become a leading force in implementing these suggestions, as the continent has successfully dealt with multiple zoonotic pandemics and holds some of the world’s biggest nature reserves and rainforests.

Amée Zoutberg
The Brussels Times

Latest news

Aggression against railway staff more than doubled since 2020
In the first three quarters of 2021, the number of reports of aggression against national railway company SNCB's staff has more than doubled compared ...
Intervention hotline 1722 activated following bad weather warnings
Following bad weather warnings from Belgium's Royal Meteorological Institute of Belgium (RMI), the Federal Public Service (FPS) Home Affairs has ...
Thousands march in Brussels to raise awareness of violence against women
More than 3,000 people took to the streets of Brussels on Sunday afternoon for a national march to raise awareness of violence against women in ...
Efficacy of vaccines against new variant known in a few weeks, virologist says
The efficacy of the current coronavirus vaccines against the new Omicron variant will be clear in one to two weeks, Belgian virologist Marc Van Ranst ...
Scientists could have communicated better during pandemic, survey shows
The majority of Flemish people continue to trust scientists, however, only half of them feel scientists communicated understandably during the ...
Closing borders and new travel restrictions: Countries react to Omicron variant
As more cases of the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus are being reported across the world, more and more countries are imposing tougher travel ...
Several rush hour train services to be scrapped from Monday
Up to ten peak time trains to and from Brussels will be temporarily cancelled starting from Monday, Belgian railway company SNCB announced this ...
Europe’s largest vintage clothes store is in Ghent this weekend
Europe's largest pop-up store for second-hand clothes is once again setting up shop in Ghent on Sunday, offering more than five tonnes of vintage ...
Animal welfare in EU’s pig meat sector: What’s wrong?
EU has put into place legislation to ensure that animal welfare conditions are respected in its agricultural policy but the breaches of its ...
‘Not feasible’: Doctors refuse to follow new testing strategy
Doctors have warned they will not follow the government's adapted testing strategy which would see vaccinated people who were in close contact with a ...
Flanders introduces ‘invisible’ speed cameras
New digital speed cameras that are essentially invisible to the road user are being introduced on various roads and motorways in Flanders, Flemish ...
Warnings issued for slippery roads across Belgium
Drivers have been asked to watch out for slippery roads from Saturday afternoon until Sunday evening, as snow and cold temperatures are expected ...