Topic of the Day – Zoonotic Diseases

Zoonoses or Zoonotic diseases are infectious diseases that can naturally be transmitted / spread between animals (usually vertebrates) and humans. These diseases can be caused by viruses, fungi, parasites and bacteria.  

Over the last seven decades, more than three hundred Zoonotic Diseases have been reported. They account to 75% of the Emerging Infectious Diseases (EIDs) among the human beings.  The dramatic increase in the population, mobility, associated environmental and social changes in the past few decades can be attributed to the recent increase in the spread of Zoonotic Diseases worldwide. The mobility of the diseases has drastically increased due to globalisation. Destruction of habitats make it inevitable for many species to shift towards human settlements

  • A cascading effect is caused with the extinction of a species, leading to the increase in the population of the reservoir species.
  • The chances of diseases getting transmitted increases due to the expansion of transition zones between adjacent ecosystems when forests are cleared off for agricultural purposes. This is because the environment is overlapped for wild and the domesticated animals.
  • More than 220 million people in India depend on forestry and are vulnerable due to contact with wild animals but have less economic capacity to fight disease outbreaks like Kyasanur forest disease (KFD).
  • A few EIDs like the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) virus have adapted to a human-sustained cycle independent of animals. HIV was a zoonotic disease transmitted to humans in the early part of the 20th century, it has now evolved to a separate human-only disease.


Which are the Zoonotic Diseases in India?

Nipah virus, Avian Influenza, Rabies, Japanese encephalitis, Leptospirosis, Hanta virus, SARS, Cysticercosis, Anthrax, Plague, Echinococcosis and Schistosomiasis, Kyasanur forest disease (KFD) etc.

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