Surge in diseases of animal origin necessitates new approach to health – report

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A poultry farm in Chad.

Population growth, agricultural expansion, and the rise of globe-spanning food supply chains have dramatically altered how diseases emerge, jump species boundaries, and spread, according to an FAO report released on Monday.

And it argues that a new, more holistic approach to managing disease threats at the animal-human-environment interface is needed.

According to the report, World Livestock 2013: Changing Disease Landscapes, seventy percent of the new diseases that have emerged in humans over recent decades are of animal origin and, in part, directly related to the human quest for more animal-sourced food.

FAO’s new report provides a number of compelling reasons for taking a new tack on disease emergence.

Developing countries face a staggering burden of human, zoonotic and livestock diseases, it says, creating a major impediment to development and food safety.

Recurrent epidemics in livestock affect food security, livelihoods, and national and local economies in poor and rich countries alike.

Globalization and climate change are redistributing pathogens, vectors, and hosts, and pandemic risks to humans caused by pathogens of animal origin present a major concern.

FAO Assistant Director-General for Agriculture and Consumer Protection, Ren Wang, said “What this means is that we cannot deal with human health, animal health, and ecosystem health in isolation from each other – we have to look at them together, and address the drivers of disease emergence, persistence and spread, rather than simply fighting back against diseases after they emerge.”

Donn Bobb, United Nations.

Duration: 1’31″

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