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Animal disease threats 2010 and FAO response: One Health

26 May 2011 - Disease emergence and reemergence is triggered by multiple, interrelated factors such as human and animal demographics, climatic changes, increased mobility of people, companion animals, and livestock, global trade of animals and animal products, urban sprawl, land degradation, natural- and agro-ecosystem changes, drug resistance, and mass animal rearing. Important also is the booming demand for high-quality, animal-source proteins that has driven large increases in livestock production, processing, and trade in developing countries. The changing temporal-spatial and host dynamics of animal diseases lead to adjustments through three main pathways: invasion of new territories, jumping host species, and/or shifts in virulence.

The abovementioned pathways suggest that pathogens are finding novel ways to survive through increased contact rates at the interfaces shared by animals, humans, and agro-ecosystems. Linked to these are changes in social behaviors, institutions, industries, agricultural practices, policies, and technologies.

In 2010, the main animal disease threats triggered by some of the above factors included:

Africa: The progression of peste des petits ruminants (PPR) in northern and southern Africa and the spread of ruminant diseases (FMD and CBPP) but also African swine fever (ASF) facilitated by the movement of people with their stock between eastern and southern Africa.

Eastern and Southeastern Asia: Persistence of H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), the incursions of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) into Japan and the Republic of Korea, which had remained free for most of the second half of the 20th century, and the progressive spread across the Mekong Region of Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS).

South Asia: Flare-up of anthrax in ruminant livestock, brucellosis, Crimean Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India, and unusual episodes of hemorrhagic septicemia in Pakistan during the recent flood.

Latin America: Upsurges of bat- and raccoon-transmitted rabies, common pig diseases in Central and South America, equine encephalitis, as well as the persistence of porcine teschovirus (PTV) in Haiti.

Eastern Europe: Emergence of rabies, tick-borne encephalitis, hanta viruses, CCHF, Lyme disease, and alveolar echinoccocosis, following the weakening of veterinary services and the abandonment of land, as well as the ASF spread and shift to endemicity observed in the Caucasus and the Russian Federation.

The emergence and reemergence of these animal diseases poses threats to public health, the economy, livelihoods, and to global stability in food security. A new approach is needed for disease prevention and control. This means focusing on drivers of disease flare-ups, and relating diseases to farming landscape dynamics, agro-ecosystem dynamics, and wildlife. FAO promotes an integrative approach to address the increasing disease threats - termed "One Health" - as a collaborative, international, cross-sectoral, and multidisciplinary mode of addressing threats and reducing risks of infectious diseases at the animal-human-agroecosystem interface, including the wildlife component.

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FAO of the UN is an institutional partner of the World Veterinary Year 2011.



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