Zoonotic Diseases

June 26, 2020 • Volume 30, Issue 24
Can future pandemics be prevented?
By Sarah Glazer

Introduction

The pandemic circling the globe is only the latest instance of a disease that jumped from animals to humans, known as a zoonotic disease. COVID-19 likely came from a bat; AIDS, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), Ebola, West Nile and Lyme disease also originated in animals. Zoonotic disease outbreaks have been occurring more often since the 1940s as an expanding human population pushes deeper into forests for hunting, agriculture, mining and housing. Demand for exotic meat also brings live wildlife to food markets, where they can transmit viruses to other animals and humans. How to prevent the next pandemic is a matter of vigorous debate: Some scientists are pushing for more research into animal viruses, while others stress stopping human activities, such as deforestation, that can spur contagion. Conservation groups urge a ban on the wildlife trade, but critics say that will only encourage a black market. Some researchers and environmentalists say preserving wilderness and biological diversity is key to preventing more outbreaks.

A bamboo rat (Getty Images/LightRocket/Jerry Redfern)
A bamboo rat, still in its bamboo home, is offered for sale at an outdoor food market in Myanmar. Scientists say the sale of such animals in markets across Asia plays a major role in the spread of zoonotic diseases, which travel from animals to humans. (Getty Images/LightRocket/Jerry Redfern)
ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Disease
Jul. 17, 2020  The Pandemic Economy
Jun. 26, 2020  Zoonotic Diseases
May 08, 2020  CTE and Athletes
Jan. 24, 2020  Conquering Rare Diseases
Sep. 13, 2019  Measles Resurgence
Nov. 30, 2018  Obesity Crisis
Jun. 15, 2018  Superbug Threat
Jun. 02, 2017  Pandemic Threat
Jul. 22, 2016  Mosquito-Borne Disease
Feb. 13, 2015  Emerging Infectious Diseases
Nov. 08, 2013  Lyme Disease
Jan. 06, 2012  Preventing Disease
Apr. 02, 2010  Breast Cancer
Sep. 12, 2008  Heart Health
Aug. 24, 2007  Fighting Superbugs
Jan. 13, 2006  Avian Flu Threat
Jun. 20, 2003  Fighting SARS
Apr. 05, 2002  Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Mar. 09, 2001  Diabetes Epidemic
Mar. 02, 2001  Mad Cow Disease
Dec. 24, 1999  Asthma Epidemic
Aug. 05, 1983  Multiple Sclerosis
May 27, 1983  Chronic Pain: The Hidden Epidemic
Sep. 24, 1976  Influenza Control
Sep. 16, 1970  Virus Research
Mar. 14, 1956  Progress Against Polio
May 25, 1955  Degenerative Diseases
May 25, 1949  Chronic Disease
Mar. 01, 1924  The Foot and Mouth Disease
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Consumer Behavior
Export Sanctions and Restrictions
HIV and AIDS
Infectious Diseases
Regulation and Deregulation
Wildlife and Endangered Species