Although reservoirs of disease in wild and free-roaming animals are difficult to control and eradicate, advances in animal health for domestic animals and livestock offer useful lessons for improving public health defenses based on the interrelated principles of One Health.
In many advanced economies around the world, outbreaks of serious disease among livestock and pets are relatively uncommon, short-lived, easy to control, and do not pose a significant risk to people. Europe, for example, has not seen the emergence of a major zoonotic disease of cattle since then o fever over a decade ago.
Primarily, this is due to improvements in animal vaccination and vaccine uptake. Smallpox vaccines may be effective in reducing the risk of monkeypox in humans, but the most effective is to control the virus at the source.
With 99 percent of rabies cases in humans starting with the bite of an infected dog, countries with high levels of dog vaccination see very few cases of rabies in humans.
Vaccination of wild and free range animals is a huge logistical challenge and requires large-scale vaccinations Custom softwareBut vaccinating at least 70 percent of dogs is enough to create herd immunity to control the disease.
Innovations in veterinary vaccines make it possible to reduce the spread of wild vaccines. For example, in the United States, Oral vaccine taste They are distributed in habitats across several states for foxes and other animals, and the same principle could theoretically be applied to disease control in other species and in other countries. Five cities in Thailand trialled oral rabies vaccines for wild and free-roaming dogs in 2020 and have since been reported no outbreak Of the disease.
In addition to vaccines, the Covid-19 pandemic has also demonstrated the importance of tracking the spread of infection to help direct resources appropriately, and systems for diseases that can be reported in livestock are in place at the national level and worldwide.
The World Health Organization (WHO) also offers plans for a epidemic prevention treatyGiven their importance and complexity, more investment in monitoring and surveillance of wildlife is essential. In addition to the threat to humans, infected wild animals are often responsible for the spread of livestock diseases such as bird flu, which recently led to culling millions of birds Across Europe and the United States.
Since some viruses do not affect the wild animals that carry them, testing and proactive monitoring is essential, as scientists develop COVID-19 test for bat droppings They can help track the virus while removing the risks of handling wild animals.
Finally, the livestock sector has also improved effective hygiene and biosecurity measures that trap diseases as they arise.
By geographically zoning infection and limiting animal movement within designated areas, outbreaks can be contained without affecting entire countries.
Similar strategies could be deployed to control diseases that originate in wild populations, such as African swine fever, which prompted Germany and Denmark to erect border fences to prevent wild boars from spreading the disease.
No matter how well the disease is controlled, the risk of an outbreak never goes to zero as long as there is a reservoir somewhere in the world, which is why veterinary innovations developed for pets must be expanded, particularly in the Global South.
As the World Health Organization and its partners develop a treaty to prevent epidemics, it is critical that animal health, and specifically wildlife health, be given equal resources and judgment to avoid blind spots for diseases that threaten animals and humans as well. planet.