A United Nations (UN) report on Monday warned of a rising trend of diseases that are spread from wildlife to humans and likely driven by the degradation of our natural environment.Photography: AP Photo/Michael Probst

Rise in outbreaks spread from wildlife to humans

“The science is clear that if we keep exploiting wildlife and destroying our ecosystems, then we can expect to see a steady stream of these diseases jumping from animals to humans in the years ahead.”

DURBAN – A United Nations (UN) report on Monday warned of a rising trend of diseases that are spread from wildlife to humans and likely driven by the degradation of our natural environment.

Scientists call them “zoonotic diseases,” which include Ebola, SARS, Zika, HIV/AIDS, West Nile fever, and now Covid-19.They have increasingly emerged because of stresses humans have placed on animal habitats, according to the U.N. Environment Program report Preventing the Next Pandemic: Zoonotic diseases and how to break the chain of transmission, released on Monday.

“The science is clear that if we keep exploiting wildlife and destroying our ecosystems, then we can expect to see a steady stream of these diseases jumping from animals to humans in the years ahead,” said UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen.

China has sounded an alert for another disease can kill an adult in less than 24 hours. That bacterial disease is known as bubonic plague. It is a bacterial disease that is spread by fleas living on wild rodents such as marmots. The news of bubonic plague came after Chinese researchers issued an early warning over another potential pandemic caused by an influenza virus in pigs. The suspected bubonic plague case was reported on Saturday by a hospital in Bayannur.

The new report warns that future outbreaks will continue to emerge unless governments around the world take proactive measures to limit zoonotic diseases from crossing into the human population. The diseases have been responsible for some of the world’s deadliest outbreaks, which include the bubonic plague in the late Middle Ages and the influenza pandemic in the early twentieth century.

“Pandemics are devastating to our lives and our economies, and as we have seen over the past months, it is the poorest and the most vulnerable who suffer the most. To prevent future outbreaks, we must become much more deliberate about protecting our natural environment,” said Andersen.

The report added that in low to middle-income countries, endemic zoonotic diseases associated with livestock production result in more than two million deaths a year. African countries, however, have had success in managing those types of diseases and the report believes they can serve as a blueprint for tackling future outbreaks.

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