London: India is one of the "hotspots" for the highest incidence of zoonotic diseases, with widespread illnesses and death, according to a new global study mapping animal-to-human diseases such as TB and Rift Valley fever.
Such diseases are responsible for 2.4 billion cases of human illness and 2.2 million death every year across the world, the study conducted by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), the Institute of Zoology (UK) and the Hanoi School of Public Health says.
The study titled `Mapping of Poverty and Likely Zoonoses Hotspots` maps poverty, livestock-keeping and diseases humans get from animals, and presents `top 20` list of geographical hotspots, a release from ILRI said today.
The main finding of the study is that most of the burden of zoonoses and most of the opportunities for alleviating zoonoses lie in just a few countries, notably Ethiopia, Nigeria and India.
These three countries have the highest number of poor livestock keepers, the highest number of malnourished people, and are in the top five countries for both absolute numbers affected with zoonoses and relative intensity of zoonoses infection, it says.
"These findings allow us to focus on the hotspots of zoonoses and poverty, within which we should be able to make a difference," said Delia Grace, a veterinary epidemiologist and food safety expert with ILRI.
The report developed with support from the United Kingdom`s Department for International Development (DFID) added that Ethiopia, Nigeria and Tanzania in Africa, as well as India in Asia, have the highest zoonotic disease burdens, with widespread illness and death.
Grace said: "From cyst-causing tapeworms to avian
flu, zoonoses present a major threat to human and animal health. Targeting the diseases in the hardest hit countries is crucial to protecting global health as well as to reducing severe levels of poverty and illness among the world`s one billion poor livestock keepers." ?
Exploding global demand for livestock products was likely to fuel the spread of a wide range of human-animal infectious diseases, she added.
The study notes that nearly 60 per cent of all human diseases and 75 per cent of all emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic, which has implications for the future since the most rapid changes in pig and poultry farming are expected in India, among other countries.
Among the high-priority zoonoses studied are `endemic zoonoses`, such as brucellosis, which cause the vast majority of illness and death in poor countries; `epidemic zoonoses,` which typically occur as outbreaks, such as anthrax and Rift Valley fever.
While zoonoses can be transmitted to people by either wild or domesticated animals, most human infections are acquired from the world`s 24 billion livestock, including pigs, poultry, cattle, goats, sheep and camels.
The study examined the likely impacts of livestock intensification and climate change on the 13 zoonotic diseases currently causing the greatest harm to the world`s poor.