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Does Economic Development Cause Disease to Jump from Animals to Humans?

New research shows that as poor countries' economies expand, so do the chances for avian-flu like animal-to-human diseases.


After the recent outbreak of avian flu, which brought the entire world under alarm, a new study by the International Livestock Research Institute found a link between animal and human diseases through the pace of development in a country. Researchers have defined such zones of development as hot spots or cold spots.

Indonesia is the classic example of a "hot spot", where development and rapid change surpassing the speed of the industrial revolution threaten animal and human health in ways we have never seen before. Prosperity has stimulated an expansion of poultry operations in Indonesia, yet the country lacks adequate veterinary health resources, rendering it vulnerable to the emerging diseases that can prosper on its farms.


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As the pace of development intensifies and more variables come into play they show a distinct relation to ability for communicable diseases to spread between humans and animals. The Indonesian example is contrasted by Africa:

An entirely different set of health problems threaten "cold spots" throughout much of Africa – areas locked in a timewarp of underdevelopment and crippled by old diseases. Here, the past three decades have seen an entrenchment of livestock diseases like cattle "lung plague", caused by a bacterium eradicated from the herds of most wealthy countries a century ago.

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Nations in the west are described as being within a level of development that ensures a well maintained industry that can prevent the development of diseases between humans and animals. This study forces us to consider the status of developing countries and the potential threats that can arise from potential “hot spots” where development brews a potion that can create diseases that could threaten the entire planet.


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