But the United States and western Europe are hotspots for emerging diseases
The world’s poorest people also carry the heaviest burden from diseases that infect both humans and animals, according to a study published on 5 July1. The report identifies 13 such ‘zoonotic’ diseases, including tuberculosis, anthrax and hepatitis E, which together cause 2.4 billion cases of human illness and 2.2 million deaths each year, mostly in low- and middle-income nations.
The greatest impacts are concentrated in just a few countries including India, Nigeria and Ethiopia, where large populations and close daily contact between people and livestock provide ripe conditions for endemic zoonotic diseases to arise and spread, the study says. In contrast, the developed world, including the northeastern United States and the United Kingdom, are hotspots of emerging zoonotic infections, such as avian influenza.
“Zoonoses present a major threat to human and animal health. The burden for poor farmers is big,” says Delia Grace, a veterinary epidemiologist at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Nairobi, and lead author of the study.
The research team, which also included researchers from the Institute of Zoology in London, and the Hanoi School of Public Health in Vietnam, analysed 1,000 surveys of disease covering 10 million people and 6 million animals.