TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2016

Lack of animal disease knowledge exposes humans to risk

Lack of animal disease knowledge exposes humans to risk | Courtesy of wikipedia.org
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A team of scientists from the University of Sydney recently gave a detailed update about major infectious diseases that transmit between wildlife and livestock and potentially humans.

The report shows that there is a lack of knowledge about animal diseases that could place humans at greater risk.

This world-first study shows that only ten diseases comprise approximately 50% of wildlife-livestock interface diseases that are included in published knowledge. The analysis uses nearly 16,000 publications from the last hundred years to demonstrate this.

"Oftentimes we don't prioritise animal health until it impacts on human health, which means we miss the opportunity to manage diseases at the source," Dr. Siobhan Mor, co-author from the Faculty of Veterinary Science. "In the case of emerging diseases, we tend to react to large outbreaks of disease in humans, rather than preventing or managing the infection in animals, likely because we still don't know a lot about the role of these microbes in the ecology of wildlife and livestock disease."

"We know far less about the range of diseases that impact on animal health and welfare. This is particularly true for wildlife, which remains very poorly funded," Dr Anke Wiethoelter, co-author, said. "Paradoxically, this also means we know less about the diseases that could be a precursor to infectious diseases in humans.”

"In the case of Hendra virus in Australia, for instance, there are still big question marks around how the virus is transmitted between bats and horses, and factors influencing its transmission,” Dr. Wiethoelter said. “And we now know that bats can harbour many germs, but the research investment into wildlife disease ecology simply isn't there."

Further details are available in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

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