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Why We Must Know About World Zoonoses Day During Pandemic Times?

World Zoonoses Day is observed to spread awareness about diseases that spread from animals to humans.

Shipra Singh
Animals transmit diseases to humans
Animals transmit diseases to humans

World Zoonoses Day is observed on July 6 every year. When we talk of this day, we must begin with the novel Coronavirus because this is a perfect example of Zoonosis (Zoonoses is plural form). Zoonosis is the spread of infectious disease from animals to humans. In case of vice versa, it is called reverse Zoonosis or Anthroponosis.  

The pathogen gets transmitted from animal to human. Then, it is spread from human to human. Ultimately, it becomes a pandemic.  

Theme of World Zoonoses Day 2021 

This year’s theme is: “Let’s Break the Chain of Zoonotic Transmission.” 

Why we celebrate World Zoonoses Day?

The purpose of the day is to spread awareness of the risks of Zoonotic diseases.  

Significance of World Zoonoses Day 

The French biologist, Louis Pasteur, successfully administered the first vaccine against a Zoonotic disease on July 6, 1885. As per Infection Control Today, World Zoonoses Day is celebrated to honour this feat.  

This day is also celebrated to spread awareness about risks associated with Zoonotic diseases like West Nile virus, Avian Influenza, and Ebola. The day emphasizes on microbes that pose a threat to human and animal health.  

How diseases spread from animals to humans 

The role of animals in spreading Zoonotic diseases is huge. As per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 75% of new diseases come from them.  

Diseases are spread usually when humans come in contact with animals who are infected or who carry the pathogen, when they consume the meat of such an animal, or when they use animal products.  

Humans can get Zoonotic viruses from their pets, from farm animals, from hunting, and butchering.  

A huge chunk of the human population keeps pets, eats animal meat, and the world has innumerable butcher houses. So, now you can realize how much the human species is at risk!  

Common Zoonotic diseases 

  • African Sleeping Sickness – found in livestock and wild animals; transmitted through tsetse fly bite.

  • Bird Flu – found in chicken and wild birds; transmitted through close contact

  • Swine Flu – found in pigs; transmitted through close contact

  • Ebola Virus – found in monkeys, gorillas, chimpanzees, and orangutans; transmitted through close contact

  • Rabies – found in mice and rats; transmitted through rat bites, mucous and urine secretions. 

  • Anthrax – found in pigs, cattle, horses, goats, sheep, and camels; transmitted through skin contact or inhalation of spores. 

  • Diarrhea/Foodborne illness – found in domesticated animals or those reared for meat; transmitted through raw and under-cooked meat. 

  • Nipah Virus – found in primates and rodents; transmitted through contact.

  • Leprosy – Found in mice, monkeys, and rabbits; transmitted through direct contact and consumption of their meat. 

Can we prevent Zoonotic diseases? 

Well, the answer is both “yes” and “no.”  

It is “yes” because we can be more careful while handling animals, like washing our hands with soap and water, keeping our pets clean, wearing protective clothing to prevent bites from ticks, fleas, and mosquitoes, and so on.  

We must also store our foods properly so that animals do not come near them. Also, avoid sharing food with animals. Keep your pet’s bowls clean to avoid breeding of microbes. This is for your and your pet’s health.  

At the same time, the answer is “no” because we cannot stop humans from eating animal meat and from butchering. Eating meat is an individual choice.  

In spite of knowing that certain diseases spread from animals to humans, people continue eating animal meat. So, it seems to be a herculean task to convince the meat-lovers to stop eating meat.  

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