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Endemic zoonoses in the tropics overlooked

Monday, 11 May 2015

Professor John Crump
Professor John Crump, from the Centre for International Health, and a multidisciplinary team of researchers from Scotland, Tanzania and New Zealand argue that there needs to be a "One Health" approach to combatting endemic zoonoses, in a recent article in the journal Veterinary Records. The authors state that "zoonotic diseases of impoverished communities continue to be overlooked in global disease control priorities, and the cycle of neglect is perpetuated by the lack of reliable data on incidence and impact". These diseases can cause a range of non-specific symptoms such as fever, headache, joint or muscle aches and may be misdiagnosed as malaria. A lack of appropriate laboratory facilities in under-developed countries perpetuates the difficulty of accurate diagnosis.

Zoonoses are infectious diseases that pass between animals and humans. The 'bird flu' virus H5N1, SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and Ebola are some of the headline-grabbing zoonoses which have occurred in recent years. Yet, little is known about the health effects of endemic zoonoses in under-developed countries. Since funding decisions for resources in health care are made on the basis of the extent of illness, disability and death from a particular condition, the lack of accurate diagnosis and data complicates efforts to reduce the burden of these diseases.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has recently awarded $320,000 to the Centre for International Health to examine the toll of one of these zoonoses - non-typhoidal salmonella disease - in sub-Saharan Africa.

Read more in the Otago Daily Times

Read more in the open access article in Veterinary Records