A Global Approach to Zoonotic Disease Prevention and Management in the 21st Century

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Patcharapol Thanomjit, Lapatsara Kohnoi, and Vorrasukrit Vorravimuta, two medical students from Thailand. They are affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


With the current pandemic, COVID-19, still a huge factor that is affecting the whole world, the ‘One Health’ concept is needed now, more than ever before, to achieve the Global Health agenda. COVID-19, as many people might know, started its initial outbreak in Wuhan City, China, which had since spread throughout the world. SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is observed to be originally from bats, which would classify COVID-19 as a zoonotic disease. A zoonotic disease is defined as an infectious disease that can spread from an animal to humans or vice versa. These are some of the reasons why ‘One Health’ is urgently needed now, as one of ‘One Health’ goals is the control of zoonoses, if a wide range of professionals come together and combine their abilities, a huge zoonotic disease outbreak, like COVID-19, can be entirely prevented or at least be managed better in the future.

Consequently, zoonotic infections are the leading risk factor for mortality outbreaks particularly in 2019-2021, when the global pandemic has taken over a million lives.

The COVID-19 pandemic has the potential to affect humans, wildlife, and environments. Many people seem to assume that the COVID-19 situation is beneficial to the environment. However, it has a significant environmental impact due to the unstable economics. For example, there has been an increase of 1 billion trees per year in deforestation for packaging and shipping goods, also a decrease in garbage recycling. Furthermore, the coronavirus pandemic has a significant consequence on waste. In the United States, there has been an increase in medical waste, and dustmen have to deal with an increase in solid waste. Therefore, environmental degradation directly affects all wild animals.

The One Health approach’s conceptual framework for collaboration calls for cross-disciplinary interactions between institutions, managers, and health practitioners. Outlining factors, which are starting conditions and process-based, are the most concrete next step toward future One Health efforts being more effective. For instance, starting with what was before the event, such as the environment, the existing structure, and the human available resources. Other event-related factors included available training, management, communication, mobilization, and evaluation.

Proper personal hygiene, environmental maintenance, and herd maintenance are the three rules for preventing zoonotic diseases. Hands should always be washed before and after handling animals. Wear gloves all the time and check to see if any of the animals are sick or have lesions. Also, keep the animal housing areas clean and well-organized. Finally, daily observe and report on the health of the animals.

Because of the rise of zoonotic disease, the One Health approach is more important than ever. The COVID-19 pandemic has the potential to affect everyone. Furthermore, an unstable economy can lead to forest destruction indirectly. Outlining all necessary factors is the most important step in elevating a One Health approach to achieving the Global Health agenda. Additionally, the self prevention of zoonotic disease is critical for everyone.

Reference

1. https://research.illinois.edu/regulatory-compliance-safety/preventing-zoonotic-diseases

2. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0224660#pone-0224660-t009

3. https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/animal/zoo/index.html

4. https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/one-health

5. https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/situation-reports/20200423-sitrep-94-covid-19.pdf

6.https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/how-covid-19-has-changed-the-face-of-the-natural-world

7. https://www.conservation.org/stories/impact-of-covid-19-on-nature

About the authors

Patcharapol Thanomjit, Lapatsara Kohnoi, and Vorrasukrit Vorravimuta are grade-12 students from Thailand. They study at Assumption Samutprakarn school, Sci-Math program. They believe that an effective approach leads to a better Global Health agenda as a whole. They have always been passionate learners and ambitious students. They want to collect as much knowledge as possible, which can benefit them later at the university. These are challenges they believe can be overcome when working together.

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