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Zoonoses on the rise.

* Zoonoses on the rise. A United Nations expert on animal diseases stated on May 5, 2004, that zoonoses spreading to humans are a growing threat. Recent examples that have had a global impact are bird flu in Asia, Ebola in Africa, and West Nile virus (WNV) in the United States. HIVAIDS was transmitted to humans originally by animals, but now it passes from human to human with no animal link.

According to Associated Press reports, after a recent three-day conference concentrated on the problem, the WHO coordinator for control of zoonoses revealed one conclusion that attendees reached: Zoonotic diseases are increasingly emerging as a serious global and regional issue: "For the moment, we have no way to predict when they will occur or under what circumstances," she says. Dr. James Hughes, director of the National Center for Infectious Diseases at the CDC in Atlanta, adds, "We know we need to continue to expect the unexpected."

Although there is no evidence of new outbreaks that would threaten humans, health officials are watching a few likely suspects, such as influenza, as well as Rift Valley fever--another mosquito-borne disease that is deadlier than WNV. Its mortality rate is up to 26%, compared to WNV at 10%.

Dr. Corrie Brown, a University of Georgia professor and member of the Secretary of Agriculture's advisory committee for animal and poultry, warns, "If we get Rift Valley fever in the United States, it would make West Nile look like a hiccup." Among concerns over Rift Valley fever is that if it reaches the United States, over 25 different varieties of mosquitoes could carry the virus.

Zoonoses are often spread by international trade, by cross-species infections where there is environmental degradation in developing countries (particularly in tropical regions), and by the movement of human rural populations into big cities.
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Title Annotation:Disease Update
Publication:Medical Laboratory Observer
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2004
Words:301
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