Emerging infectious zoonotic diseases: The neglected role of food animals

One Health. 2021 Sep 3:13:100323. doi: 10.1016/j.onehlt.2021.100323. eCollection 2021 Dec.


This paper compares the relative frequency of zoonotic disease emergence associated with food animals versus emergence from other animal sources and explores differences in disease characteristics and drivers of emergence between the two sources. It draws on a published compilation of 202 Emerging Infectious Zoonotic Disease (EIZD) events for the period 1940-2004. Of the 202 zoonotic EID events in the dataset, 74 (36.6%) were associated with animals kept for food production, which acted as reservoir for the zoonotic pathogen in 64 events and as intermediate / amplifying host in 8 events. Significant differences exist both in the characteristics of the causal agents and the drivers of emergence of zoonotic diseases from food animals and non-food animals. However, the prevailing policy debate on prevention, detection and control of EIZDs largely focuses on diseases of non-food animal origin (wildlife), neglecting the role of food animals. Policies and investments that ensure appropriate veterinary public health measures along and within food animal value chains are essential to mitigate the global risk of EIZDs, particularly in developing regions where the livestock sector is experiencing rapid growth and structural transformation.

Keywords: Drivers; Emerging zoonoses; Food animals; Wildlife.