Animal to human disease jumps

marisul marisul at
Thu Jun 12 10:29:30 EDT 2003

> Human activities give rise to new diseases
> By David Suzuki
> Excerpts:
> "Look at SARS. It now appears this latest disease epidemic may have
> originated in civet cats, a small, wild, nocturnal mammal who happens
> to be considered a delicacy in southern China. Humans may have become
> infected when these animals were slaughtered for food.
> "That sounds disconcertingly familiar to another global disease
> epidemic that has now killed nearly 20 million people worldwide:
> AIDS. HIV, the virus believed to cause AIDS, is thought to have been
> spread to humans from chimpanzees through the bushmeat trade. AIDS
> has taken a tremendous toll in Africa. In the next 17 years, some 55
> million Africans are expected to die from the disease.
> "And there's more. Earlier this spring, a Dutch veterinarian became
> the first human to succumb to the highly pathogenic avian influenza
> that has been ravaging poultry farms in the Netherlands. About 100
> other people also contracted the disease, which forced authorities
> there to slaughter more than 18 million chickens. The disease has
> also spread to pigs, who are ideal virus incubators and can act as
> intermediaries for a virus to spread from other animals to humans.
> "Four years ago that happened when Malaysian pig farmers hacked into
> forests to make room for their farms. Fruit bats who used to live in
> the forests began to roost in barns and building rafters. Their
> droppings, which carried a virus called nipah, contaminated the pigs'
> feed. Although the virus appears to be harmless to bats, it causes a
> brutal cough and often death in pigs. From the infected pigs, the
> virus soon spread to farm workers, who developed similar symptoms.
> More than 100 people died, and authorities had to slaughter more than
> a million pigs."

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