Animal Disease Research Paper

The world’s poorest people also carry the heaviest burden from diseases that infect both humans and animals, according to a study published on 5 July1. The report identifies 13 such ‘zoonotic’ diseases, including tuberculosis, anthrax and hepatitis E, which together cause 2.4 billion cases of human illness and 2.2 million deaths each year, mostly in low- and middle-income nations.

The greatest impacts are concentrated in just a few countries including India, Nigeria and Ethiopia, where large populations and close daily contact between people and livestock provide ripe conditions for endemic zoonotic diseases to arise and spread, the study says. In contrast, the developed world, including the northeastern United States and the United Kingdom, are hotspots of emerging zoonotic infections, such as avian influenza.

“Zoonoses present a major threat to human and animal health. The burden for poor farmers is big,” says Delia Grace, a veterinary epidemiologist at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Nairobi, and lead author of the study.

The research team, which also included researchers from the Institute of Zoology in London, and the Hanoi School of Public Health in Vietnam, analysed 1,000 surveys of disease covering 10 million people and 6 million animals.

Livestock provides poor families with up to half their income and 6–35% of their protein intake. Demand for livestock products such as meat and milk is rising across the globe and could offer poor farmers a route out of poverty as markets expand, but zoonotic disease are a major obstacle to this goal. For example, the study estimates that one in eight livestock animals in poor countries are affected by brucellosis, reducing milk and meat production in cattle by 8%. In addition, 27% of livestock in developing countries showed signs of current or past infection with bacterial food-borne disease.

The latest research will help direct efforts and resources to where they are most needed, so that they can have the greatest impact in tackling disease and poverty, says Grace.

The study builds on previous efforts to rank zoonotic diseases affecting the poor. But those efforts relied on the opinions of experts and farmers and so were less objective than this study, she says.

It also updates and adds to existing disease maps, which focused on emerging human diseases covering the years 1940–20042. The new report includes data up to 2012, finding an additional 30 disease reports both before and since 2004. It shows that the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia are the key hotspots for emerging zoonotic diseases. It is unclear why endemic diseases and emerging diseases follow different geographical patterns, says Grace, a finding that conflicts with the idea held by many scientists that the crucible of disease emergence is biodiversity hotspots, which tend to be found in developing countries.

“We don’t know why this is. It could be reporting and detection bias,” she says. Patchy surveillance and under-reporting is a huge problem in developing countries, where farmers fear they will lose their livestock without receiving compensation if they report cases of disease.

“Developing countries need help to develop reporting and surveillance networks and training for farmers and veterinarians in spotting and reporting incidents of disease,” says Bernard Vallat, director-general of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) in Paris.

The OIE is pushing for the World Bank to establish a fund to compensate poor farmers in the case of large-scale disease outbreaks, says Vallat. “It is for the global public good to have a worldwide reporting network that extends into remote areas,” he says. “The cost of late detection rises exponentially, but it is not a priority for donors.”


Journal name:

1. Global Strategic Alliances for the Coordination of Research on the Major Infectious Diseases of Animals and Zoonoses. Accessed 4 March 2015

2. STAR-IDAZ. Research organisation database Accessed 4 March 2015

3. STAR-IDAZ database on infectious diseases in farmed animals. Analysis of research output in partner countries (2006–2010). Accessed 4 Mar 2015

4. Boissy A, Gautret M, Jestin A, Mesori S (2014) First report on mapped scientific data information in Animal Health and Animal Welfare—Deliverable D2.3 of the ERA-Net Animal Health and Welfare (ANIHWA) (Deliverable D2.3). Accessed 21 Sept 2015

5. Ducrot C, Gautret M, Pineau T, Jestin A (2015) Bibliometric collaborations database (Staridaz website—section Databases) Accessed 30 Oct 2015

6. Ducrot C, Gautret M, Pineau T, Jestin A (2015) Report on bibliometric study (2006–2013) on animal infectious diseases Accessed 21 Sept 2015

7. Composition of macro geographical (continental) regions, geographical sub-regions, and selected economic and other groupings Accessed 10 Mar 2015

8. Giovanetti J-F, Barale M, Boyer A, Marti A, Garmet A, Leforban Y, Savey M, Andral B, Saunders M (2010) Approche bibliométrique de la recherche vétérinaire française 2003–2007. Report. p 57

9. Page JR, Moberly HK, Youngen GK, Hamel BJ. Exploring the veterinary literature: a bibliometric methodology for identifying interdisciplinary and collaborative publications. Colleg Res Librar. 2014;75:664–683. doi: 10.5860/crl.75.5.664.[Cross Ref]

10. Pavlech LL (2014) A Bibliometric Analysis of Articles Published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine from 1998 to 2013. MSc thesis, School of Information and Library Science, University of North Carolina, p 113

11. Ali J, Pappa E. Global meat market: structural changes across geographical regions. South Asia Res. 2015;35:143–157. doi: 10.1177/0262728015578985.[Cross Ref]

12. Parrish CR, Holmes EC, Morens DM, Park EC, Burke DS, Calisher CH, Laughlin CA, Saif LJ, Daszak P. Cross-species virus transmission and the emergence of new epidemic diseases. Microbiol Mol Biol Rev. 2008;72:457–470. doi: 10.1128/MMBR.00004-08.[PMC free article][PubMed][Cross Ref]


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *