Articles on Zoonotic diseases

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People who eat raw or undercooked meat from infected animals may get anthrax. Thumbi Mwangi

Here’s how to prevent another anthrax outbreak in Kenya

Governments in anthrax endemic countries should build efficient surveillance systems that incorporate detection, confirmation and efficient data collation and feedback.
Uncollected rubbish provides food and shelter for rodents which can spread plague if they pick up the bacteria. Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko

Explainer: understanding plague in the 21st century

Plague, one of the deadliest diseases in the world, has been reported in several African countries in the past decade.
Two women walk in front of a billboard, which says “Ebola must go. Stopping Ebola is Everybody’s Business” in Monrovia, Liberia, January 15 2015. UNMEER/Emmanuel Tobey

The Ebola outbreak highlights shortcomings in disease surveillance and response – and where we can do better

Along with better strategies to respond to outbreaks in human populations, we need a stronger focus on surveillance in animals to identify infectious diseases before they pose a risk to human health.
Some rat, possum and mozzie species thrive when living close to people. Mark Philpott/Flickr

Urbanisation brings animals and diseases closer to home

Our world is becoming increasingly urbanised. In 1950, just 30% of the world’s population lived in urban areas. This number is now over 50% and rising. By 2050, two-thirds of the world’s population are…
Bats can harbour viruses such as Ebola and don’t display clinical signs of disease. Janelle Lugge

Bat’s immunity may hold key to preventing future Ebola outbreaks

Bats are the natural host species for Ebola and a variety of viruses, many of which can be fatal when transmitted to humans. More than 100 viruses have been identified in bats and this number is rising…
Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, which is carried by ticks. Mike K/Flickr

Lyme-like disease may result from related unknown bacteria

A government investigation into whether Lyme disease exists in Australia and how to treat it has ended without being able to resolve the issues. But there is a plausible explanation for why people here…
Ebola travels by bat, on the wing. yotut

Fruit bats could help predict Ebola outbreaks

Pictures of masked and gowned healthcare workers have become recurrent images as the Ebola virus continues to spread in West Africa. It is the largest Ebola virus outbreak ever recorded, and the death…
Dogs are the source of the majority of human rabies deaths around the world. M. Lehmkuhler/Flickr

Explainer: the rabies virus

The island of Bali has pledged to be free of the rabies by 2020 and has begun culling stray dogs in an effort to control the virus. Rabies was first detected in Bali in November 2008 and has since claimed…
Britain’s best loved mammal, but no friend to cattle farmers. Ben Birchall/PA

Swapping science for shooting won’t save cattle or badgers

What do the pilot badger culls due to start this weekend in Gloucester and West Somerset hope to achieve? The official line is a 16% reduction of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) in cattle herds over the next…
Heavy-handed strategies won’t reduce the risk of bat-borne diseases and will be detrimental to the environment. Flickr/mdavidford

Breaking up bat colonies doesn’t eliminate health risks

The recent tragic death of a young boy from Australian bat lyssavirus (ABL) produced a predictable chorus of calls to disperse flying fox colonies and kill flying foxes, all in the name of public health…
Pandemics produce an extraordinary outpouring of emotion which is out of proportion to the number of actual cases and deaths. EPA/Wu Hong

No evidence H7N9 spreads between humans – but fear does

It’s ten years since SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) upset our complacency about infectious diseases and now we are faced by another “new” disease. H7N9 bird flu is currently spreading through…
The global focus on emerging infectious disease has turned to bats since they were identified as the probable source of SARS. Toby Mann

First Hendra, now bat lyssavirus, so what are zoonotic diseases?

The last 30 years have seen a rise in emerging infectious diseases in humans, of which more than 70% are zoonotic. Zoonoses are diseases that normally exist in animals but have the potential to transmit…

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