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Threat of diseases passed from animals will only increase

The Threat of Diseases Passed from Animals will Only Increase: Oxford University

LONDON – Humans face a growing risk of animal-borne diseases, said the professor responsible for coronavirus vaccine development at the University of Oxford.
Rising population density, increased international travel and deforestation have all made the spread of zoonotic diseases much more likely, professor of vaccinology Sarah Gilbert told The Independent.
Researchers have yet to prove the origin of COVID-19, but most believe it was transmitted from bats to humans via another animal.
Likewise, scientists suspect that SARS and Ebola are also diseases transmitted by animals.
In June of this year, scientists warned they had discovered a new strain of swine flu in China that could have the potential to become another pandemic.
The strain carried by pigs had “all the characteristics” of being able to be transmitted from person to person, researchers wrote in an article published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“Pigs are considered important hosts or ‘mixing vessels’ for the generation of pandemic influenza viruses,” the researchers wrote.
Zoonotic diseases are responsible for millions of deaths each year, and around 60% of emerging infectious diseases worldwide are caused by animals, according to the World Health Organization.
As the world became more globalized, the risk of zoonotic diseases would continue to rise, Professor Gilbert said.
“Because of the way things are going in the world, it’s more likely that we will have zoonotic infections causing epidemics in the future,” she said.
“Higher population density, greater displacement, deforestation – all of these make it more likely that these epidemics will occur and something will spread.”
Professor Gilbert, whose work at the University of Oxford includes finding a universal influenza vaccine capable of protecting against all strains, said another influenza pandemic like the one of 2017-18 was almost certainly on the way.
“There will be another influenza pandemic in the future,” said Professor Gilbert.
“It will come back, [but] we don’t know what flu subtype it will be.”
“[With] the flu, there have been several pandemics every century as far as we can measure it, and there are so many different flu viruses out there – so we can never eradicate the flu.
“We have eradicated smallpox because it does not exist in animals. We are on the verge of eradicating polio – an excellent result this week: no polio in Africa. It is enormous.”
“There are other diseases like measles that could, in theory, be eradicated because there is no animal reservoir.
“But that doesn’t apply to the flu, and the flu is in a lot of migrating wild birds, and we can’t get rid of that reservoir.”
(Sahar News Monitoring Desk)

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