“Taylor et al. (2001) documented that 61% of all human pathogens are zoonotic. And of the 175 newly emerging pathogens in humans, 75% are listed as zoonotic … However, it is also important to remember that some diseases affect animals only, often with economic, environmental and/or societal implications.” – Bender et al., Recent Animal Disease Outbreaks and their Impact on Human Populations. 2006: 133
Animal diseases have both direct and indirect medical and economic effects. This was demonstrated during the avian flu epidemic of 2003-2004. Most affected during the outbreak was Vietnam, where 44 million birds were destroyed. The country suffered a loss of US$120 million, with small facilities losing 50 times their daily income, according to the World Bank. The avian flu is just one of many animal diseases.
In addition to economic considerations, many animal diseases can have negative direct and indirect medical outcomes for humans. Zoonotic animal diseases can directly infect humans. The loss of human life can be catastrophic, as in the case of the “black” plague and the “Spanish” influenza. Animal diseases can also cause negative indirect medical effects in terms of nutrition. “About 50 percent of the world’s population suffers from chronic and hunger. Inadequate diet claims many thousands of lives each day,” writes the Encyclopedia Brittanica. Malnutrition intensifies when animal diseases wipe out the livestock on which people depend for protein and other nutrients.
From an economic perspective, the illness and loss of life from zoonotic diseases decreases productivity and hurts a country’s economy. Even diseases that are not zoonotic can harm the economy because livestock facilities often must close, leaving animal workers unemployed. Economies that depend on the export of animal products are particularly vulnerable.
There are both medical and economic effects to animal diseases. Orbis Biosciences is proud to put our Precision Particle FabricationTM technology to work in animal health. As more organizations work to prevent and treat animal diseases, the negative direct and indirect effects of those diseases will lessen. Humans will be healthier, and our economies will thrive.