The "Covid-19" pandemic continues, day after day, to claim more lives, and cause millions of injuries around the world. An analysis published by the International Monetary Fund indicates that the cumulative loss in global GDP over the years 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic crisis will reach about 9 trillion dollars, equivalent to the sum of the economies of Japan and Germany.

Before this pandemic, diseases transmitted from animals to humans were not of concern to people, with the exception of a few cases that remained relatively limited in impact and spread, such as “bird flu”, “mad cow disease” and “SARS”. While the number of deaths resulting from “Covid-19” exceeded five hundred thousand people, during the first half of 2020. Infection with neglected diseases of animal origin such as “anthrax”, “bovine tuberculosis” and “rabies” leads to the death of about two million people annually, Most of them are in low and middle income countries.

Besides mortality, disease in outbreaks results in lower productivity in developing countries, a major problem that leaves hundreds of millions of small farmers living in extreme poverty. In the last two decades alone, the economic losses due to zoonotic diseases have reached more than $ 100 billion.

A recent report, within the framework of cooperation between the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the International Livestock Research Institute, warns that more outbreaks will emerge unless governments take effective measures to prevent disease transmission from animals to humans.

The report indicates that there have been tremendous increases in the global population over the past 100 years, which led to great pressure on natural systems and their decline. It is considered that these two parallel trends have a major impact on the complex chain of events that have combined to increase the chances of new zoonotic diseases emerging and spreading.

Development of zoonotic diseases

The increasing demand for animal protein is one of the factors that have contributed to the emergence of emerging diseases, especially in middle- or low-income countries. Estimates indicate a sharp growth in meat production over the past fifty years, at a rate of more than 260 percent, milk production increased by 90 percent, and eggs by more than 340 percent. In contrast, consumption of plant protein produced from legumes increased in parallel with the growth in the global population.

The increasing demand for animal source foods boosts the intensification of livestock production and processing, which also leads to the intensification of agricultural production. In poorer countries, risk factors are high, as livestock production is close to cities, biosafety practices are often inadequate, animal waste is poorly managed, and antibiotics are widely used to mask poor conditions for raising animals. Since the 1940s, agricultural intensification measures, including the construction of dams, irrigation projects and animal production farms, have been associated with the emergence of 25 percent of infectious diseases among humans, and 50 percent of zoonotic diseases have been attributed to them.

Rapid urbanization, especially when it is unplanned and has poor infrastructure, creates a link between wildlife and humans. The wider movement of people, animals, food and trade associated with accelerated urban development provides favorable causes for the emergence of infectious diseases, including zoonotic diseases.