INDIA – As the world is set to mark World Zoonoses Day on the 6th of July 2021, health experts have stated that two thirds of communicable diseases are animal-borne and usually have enormous effects.
The Indian health minister said that besides the common zoonotic diseases, like leptospirosis, scrub typhus, monkey fever, Nipah, rabies, Japanese fever and West Nile fever, which are commonly reported in Kerala, COVID-19 is also posing a threat to public health.
She adds that even though human-animal interactions are unavoidable, precaution must be taken to prevent the transfer of viruses and bacteria or parasites from animals to humans.
“Humans, knowingly or unknowingly, interact directly with wildlife in many areas, such as employment, food, animal husbandry, education, recreation, and forest and wildlife conservation. Therefore, they can be prevented only if there is knowledge about zoonotic diseases,” says Veena George.
World Zoonoses Day is a global awareness day held every 6th of July, the anniversary of the day in 1885 when Louise Pasteur successfully administered the first vaccine against rabies.
The day is also marked to raise awareness about the risk of zoonotic diseases like Ebola, Avian influenza and West Nile virus.
In 2021, it comes once again in the midst of the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) pandemic, a disease of zoonotic (animal) origin. To date, about 3.9 million deaths from COVID-19 have been reported to the World Health Organization.
How it spreads from animals to humans:
Its transmission can occur when there is contact with the animals, consumption of the meat or using of animal products.
The disease can jump from your pets, from farm animals reared for meat or from hunting, butchering and consuming wild game.
How to prevent it from happening:
There are several precautionary measures that humans can take to avoid contracting zoonotic diseases, like properly washing hands with soap and water.
Other methods include wearing protective clothing and spraying repellant to prevent bites from fleas, mosquitoes and ticks. It is also important to store and handle food safely and to avoid bites and scratches from animals.
Following various safety measures is key, as people are at risk of contracting serious illness from zoonotic disease, especially children below five years of age and adults over 65.