Emerging zoonoses in relation to the changing socio-economic environment

Zoonoses appear to crop up randomly. Some factors that influence their emergences have been identified, e.g. a combined human and animal high population density. Wageningen University & Research researchers are identifying the biological and socio-economic drivers and the main impacts of emerging zoonoses on a local and global scale. The study will result in schematic diagrams for several infections. The outcomes can support policy-makers considering preventive measures against the emergence of zoonoses.

Infections acquired from animals, known as zoonoses, are a major source of human microbiological infection and pose a risk to public health. In the last decades, quite a few zoonoses have emerged with high impact on both a local and a global scale. Emergence of infectious diseases is related to change and adaptation of disease agents and is strongly influenced by changes related to human behaviour, and socio-economical, environmental and ecological circumstances.
We propose an integrated analysis of emerging zoonoses by identifying and qualifying both biological and anthropogenic drivers of emerging zoonoses and assessing the socio-economic impact of such diseases. To address these issues a multi-disciplinary and transboundary approach is needed as has been proposed in the Global One Health white paper.

The goal of this project is to identify the main drivers and the main impacts of emerging zoonoses on both a local and a global scale by a multi-disciplinary and transboundary approach. The project will result in a mechanistic model that will be further developed for a selection of 2 – 4 zoonotic infections. More specifically, the project objectives are:

  1. To identify how global change in general, and changes in human behaviour in particular, contributes to the emergence of zoonotic infections. Ecological changes, changes in human and animal population densities, microbial factors and changing interactions of different animal species and humans may enhance zoonotic infections to emerge (see figure).
  2. To describe how changing economic circumstances on both a regional and global scale on the one hand may contribute to the emergence of zoonotic infections, and on the other hand are influenced by emerging zoonoses.
  3. To study how food security, which will be a major concern of the fast growing world population in the 21st century, will be affected by the emergence of zoonoses.
  4. To list and evaluate intervention measures to reduce the economic and societal impact of emerging zoonoses.