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15.05.2014, admin
Climate Change and the Expansion of Animal and Zoonotic Diseases – What is the Agency’s Contribution?
Globalization and climate change have had an unprecedented worldwide impact on emerging and re-emerging animal diseases and zoonoses. Humans are also at an increased risk from insect-born diseases such as malaria, dengue, and yellow fever.
Vector borne diseases are particularly affected by weather patterns and long-term climatic factors strongly influence the incidence of outbreaks. Warmer temperatures are already enabling insects and microorganisms to invade and reproduce in areas where once they could not due to severely low temperatures and seasonal chills. Important zoonotic diseases such as avian influenza, Lyme disease and Rift Valley Fever are also likely to spread due to global warming. Bluetongue) and parasites (Malaria) are all well known but the geographical distribution of these diseases is expanding as changes in climate continue.
ZOONOSES Zoonoses, or zoonotic diseases, are caused by infectious agents that are transmissible under natural circumstances from vertebrate animals to humans.
Insect-borne diseases are now present in temperate areas where the vector insects were non existent in the past e.g. Certain zoonoses, such as yellow fever, malaria, and rabies, are well known to the general public, but a vast number of lesser-known zoonoses exist in limited cycles in different parts of the world.
There are undoubtedly many zoonoses lurking in nature that have the potential to cause serious public health consequences if introduced into humans. This is, in fact, what may be our greatest concern about zoonoses—not the diseases that we know they are capable of causing, but the hidden potential of what diseases might arise in the future. Examples that foster our concern include the emergence of AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) from nonhuman primates, which has developed into one of the most significant infectious disease threats in the world today, and the crossing of the species barrier of certain influenza virus strains that have led to large human pandemics.

Diseases such as AIDS and influenza have their origins as zoonoses, but they subsequently adapted to human-to-human transmission. There are a number of different types of microbial agents that cause zoonotic diseases, and various ways humans can become infected with these agents. Enteric bacteria such as Salmonella and Escherichia coli and parasites such as Cryptosporidium and Giardia are responsible for major food-borne and waterborne disease outbreaks around the world, and recently the nonmicrobial, transmissible agent of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad cow disease) appears to have crossed over to humans to produce a degenerative neurological disease known as variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
There has been a disturbing trend of reemergence of previously recognized zoonoses that were believed to be under control. Some supposedly "new zoonoses" have been around for a long time but have simply not been recognized. For example, several types of hantaviruses are transmitted by rodents such as deer mice and can cause the disease known as hantavirus pulmonary syndrome. This disease has likely been around for decades, if not centuries, but human cases were first documented only in 1993.
In addition, global warming has the potential to broaden the geographic distribution and abundance of arthropods as well as the vertebrate hosts in which some zoonoses persist. There is no single clinical picture that can be drawn of zoonoses, given the diverse group of microorganisms that are capable of causing zoonotic diseases. A partial list of symptoms may include some, but not all, of the following: fever (sometimes hemorrhagic), headache, rash, muscle aches, arthritis, respiratory distress (sometimes pneumonia), abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, jaundice, cardiac abnormalities, and neurological involvement ranging from stiff neck to meningitis or encephalitis.
The course of disease varies between different zoonotic pathogens but can be more severe in the very young or very old, or in individuals who are immunocompromised. Many zoonoses can be treated with antimicrobial drugs, but there are few drugs that can be used to successfully treat viral zoonoses. Treatment for a known or suspected exposure to a viral zoonosis such as rabies involves administration of immune globulin, whereas only supportive treatment can be offered for many other viral zoonoses.

Vaccines are available for the general public for a small number of zoonoses, such as Japanese encephalitis and yellow fever, and on a limited basis for individuals perceived to be at occupational or recreational risk.
In addition, chemoprophylactic regimens such as antimalarial drugs are recommended for travellers to high disease-risk areas.
The risk of contracting vector-borne diseases can be reduced by avoidance of areas infested by arthropods, use of insect repellents, and appropriate clothing (the less skin exposed the better). Occasionally it is possible to reduce zoonotic disease risks by decreasing the abundance of certain reservoir hosts such as rodents.
Areas containing potentially contaminated animal material such as rodent excreta should be cleaned using appropriate disinfectants. Diseases such as tularemia and leptospirosis may be contracted by handling infected animal tissue, so trappers should use gloves when handling dead animals.
The disease incidence and pattern of occurrence of zoonoses varies greatly between different regions within a country and between countries. Because of this relative infrequency of occurrence, some zoonotic infections may be overlooked and underdiagnosed.
These include people with occupational exposure, such as veterinarians, farmers, and slaughterhouse workers, or individuals who participate in outdoor recreational activities, such as hunters. Individuals should be aware of the respective zoonoses that may be circulating in their environment and the times of year of greatest risk for contracting these zoonoses. This type of information is generally available from public health departments and veterinarians, and can also be found on the Internet.

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