A new report on the ‘causes of causes’ of H7N9 and other diseases that are emerging in animals and jumping species—into people
This blog was originally posted to the ILRI News Blog.
The deadly H7N9 bird flu virus in China and the spread of a SARS-like coronavirus in the Middle East continue to make headlines. H7N9 has killed 35 people in China and 20 have lost their lives to the novel coronavirus—which has spread from Saudi Arabia to the UK, France and Germany.
Two opinion editorials in the New York Times this month, The next contagion: Closer than you think and The next pandemic: Not if, but when, correctly warn us about the potential global spread of these killer diseases. They call for more awareness of the dangers of zoonotic (animal-to-people) diseases, faster identification of animal sources of the pathogens and better vaccines to protect us against them. All of those are indeed needed.
But like much of the mainstream press, neither article mentions the root cause of these emerging infectious diseases, that is, the conditions that make zoonoses likely to arise in the first place and then help turn them into lethal pandemics.