The Story behind COVID-19: Animal Diseases at the Crossroads of Wildlife, Livestock and Human Health
A number of virological, epidemiological and ethnographic arguments suggest that COVID-19 has a zoonotic origin. The pangolin, a species threatened with extinction due to poaching for both culinary purposes and traditional Chinese pharmacopoeia, is now suspected of being the “missing link” in the transmission to humans of a virus that probably originated in a species of bat. Our predation of wild fauna and the reduction in their habitats have thus ended up creating new interfaces that favour the transmission of pathogens (mainly viruses) to humans. Domesticated animals and wild fauna thus constitute a reservoir for almost 80% of emerging human diseases (SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV, Ebola). These diseases are all zoonotic in origin. As if out of a Chinese fairy tale, the bat and the pangolin have taught us a lesson: within an increasingly interdependent world, environmental crises will become ever more intertwined with health crises. Questions relating to public health will no longer be confined to the secrecy of the physician’s consulting room or the sanitised environment of the hospital. They are now being played out in the arena of international trade, ports and airports and distribution networks. Simply put, all human activity creates new interfaces that facilitate the transmission of pathogens from an animal reservoir to humans. This pluri-disciplinary article highlights that environmental changes, such as the reduction in habitats for wild fauna and the intemperate trade in fauna, are the biggest causes of the emergence of new diseases. Against this background, it reviews the different measures taken to control, eradicate and prevent the emergence of animal diseases in a globalised world.
PublisherCambridge University Press (CUP)
CitationDe sadeleer, Godfroid J. The Story behind COVID-19: Animal Diseases at the Crossroads of Wildlife, Livestock and Human Health. European Journal of Risk Regulation. 2020
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Copyright 2020 The Author(s)