Increased human-animal interface & emerging zoonotic diseases: An enigma requiring multi-sectoral efforts to address

Indian J Med Res. 2021 May&Jun;153(5&6):577-584. doi: 10.4103/ijmr.IJMR_2971_20.


Increased human-animal interfaces impose threats on human life by creating scope for the emergence and resurgence of many infectious diseases. Over the last two decades, emergence of novel viral diseases such as SARS, influenza A/H1N1(09) pdm; MERS; Nipah virus disease; Ebola haemorrhagic fever and the current COVID-19 has resulted in massive outbreaks, epidemics and pandemics thereby causing profound losses of human life, health and economy. The current COVID-19 pandemic has affected more than 200 countries, reporting a global case load of 167,878,000 with 2 per cent mortality as on May 26, 2021. This has highlighted the importance of reducing human- animal interfaces to prevent such zoonoses. Rapid deforestation, shrinking of boundaries between human and animal, crisis for natural habitation, increasing demands for wildlife products and threat of extinction compounded by biodiversity narrowing compel to increased human-animal conflict and contact. Large quantities of animal waste generated due to animal agriculture may also allow rapid selection, amplification, dissemination of zoonotic pathogens and facilitate zoonotic pathogen adaptation and hinder host evolution for resistance. Public health system faces challenges to contain such epidemics due to inadequate understanding, poor preparedness, lack of interdisciplinary approach in surveillance and control strategy and deficient political commitments. Because the management measures are beyond the purview of health system alone, policy-level adaptation in the transdisciplinary issues are required, emphasizing the engagement of multiple stakeholders towards wildlife protection, alternative land use, community empowerment for natural resource management and regulation on business of wildlife products to ensure comprehensive one health practice.

Keywords: Epidemic; SARS; human–animal interface; influenza; one health; zoonoses.

Publication types

  • Review