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Expansion of Zoonotic Disease Spillover Increases Problem of Illnesses



Expansion of Zoonotic Disease Spillover Increases Problem of Illnesses

Numerous wild boar at Shuklaphanta National Park perished from African swine disease infection last year. Tens of thousands of domestic boars and pigs were killed by the same virus, which spread throughout multiple areas and decimated the fledgling pork industry in addition to forcing many farmers to abandon their livelihood.

The viral pig sickness known as African swine fever is extremely contagious. Direct contact with infected wild boars, pigs, or ticks can spread the virus. Additionally, processed meat can harbor the virus for several months, and frozen corpses can harbor it for several years.

Experts are particularly concerned by the fact that the nation’s officials are still unsure of how the virus spread from wild boars to domestic pigs or the other way around, as well as the precise amount of losses sustained.

One of the common infectious zoonotic illnesses at the livestock-wildlife interface is the African swine fever virus, which has been posing a growing threat to Nepal, a nation ill-equipped to deal with it.

According to a recent report, a number of factors have contributed to the increased emergence of new infections, including the exponential growth of human and animal populations, rapid urbanization, evolving farming systems, closer integration between livestock and wildlife, encroachment into forests, shifts in ecosystems, globalization of the trade in animals and animal products, and changes in the ecology of the pathogen-host relationship.

The American Society of Animal Science’s official journal, Animal Frontiers, published a report titled “Shared infections at the wildlife-livestock interface and their impact on public health, economy, and biodiversity.” It stated that the dynamics of disease spillover and transmission have been changing as a result of changing climatic conditions, leading to an increase in outbreaks at all different interfaces, primarily viral diseases within all production groups.

“African swine fever virus is among the zoonotic diseases, which has spilled over from wild to domestic animals, from which thousands of people in our country have been affected by its outbreak,” said Dr Dibesh Karmacharya, executive director of Center for Molecular Dynamics Nepal. “Most of the zoonotic diseases have crossed over from the wild and transmitted to domestic animals and humans.”

Among the illnesses that spread from wildlife include TB, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), and avian flu.

In 2019, the H5N1 avian flu virus claimed the life of at least one person in Nepal. Outbreaks of the virus in different poultry farms around the nation resulted in the culling of hundreds of thousands of hens. Numerous farmers were impacted and chose to leave the industry. It is estimated that tuberculosis affects about 20 percent of Nepal’s domesticated elephant population. According to experts, there is always a chance of virus transfer because of interactions between farmed elephants and their wild counterparts.

Establishing an improved disease surveillance system, putting into practice sensible risk mitigation and management plans, and encouraging cooperation and coordination across national, regional, and international non-governmental organizations and stakeholders are all critical, according to the research.

“Surveillance is a crucial part to reduce the risk of outbreaks and spillover of the deadly diseases,” said Dr Chandra Dhakal, information officer at the Department of Livestock Services under the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development. “We have stepped up surveillance measures and alerted agencies concerned to increase vigilance over the risks.”

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