In a discussion held by the Heart Care Foundation of India, zoonotic diseases were widely discussed by experts from the medicine field
Right when the COVID-19 outbreak became a pandemic and even before that, the role of animals in spreading the virus was widely discussed in various health forums and global health organisations. There were multiple myths, which started making rounds that even pets at home could be a danger to humankind, leading to multiple families abandoning of pets on the roads. Speaking on this, Dr K K Aggarwal, HCFI and CMAAO, “One health is a concept that incorporates humans, animal, plant, and environmental health (air, water, earth) under one roof. It recognises that the health of people is connected to the health of animals, plants, and the environment.”
There is thus a significant association between the origin and spread of diseases among all these elements. The sudden outbreak also stressed the prevalence of virus and animals coexisting in the same surroundings. Dr Ravindra Kembhavi, SGSMC and KEMH, said, “Preparing for the perpetual challenges of the pandemic of coronavirus infection with special focus on SARS-CoV-2 India has so far controlled coronavirus to some extent compared to rest of the world. India has to still go a long way in control of cases and deaths. This is because there are challenges such as management of areas and people, arrangements of treatment and home quarantine, as also contact tracing of the affected people. We must understand that the coronavirus is going to stay with us, and we have to gradually bring in normalcy by following protocols such as social distancing and handwashing.”
Another emerging virus, which led to the discussion was the Nipah virus. Dr Rabindra Zende, Professor and HOD, Department of Veterinary Public Health, added, “Nipah virus infection is an emerging zoonotic disease of public health concern in the South-East Asia region with a high case fatality rate. In India, this disease was periodically reported in 2001, 2007 and 2018 in West Bengal and Kerala. Awareness and precautions are key in the case of any disease, and even in the case of Coronavirus, these factors hold true.”
Also Read: Nipah Virus: A New Zoonotic Challenge
But the primary determining factor is that the recent cases of African Swine Fever and even yellow fever are all viral diseases. Dr M P Yadav, former Director, Indian Veterinary Research Institute Bareilly stressed on how African Swine Fever is not a zoonotic disease. The most crucial aspect for all these diseases is the vaccine. Just like what we think of the recent pandemic, that only a vaccine can help us stay safe, for every disease, be it a zoonotic, only vaccine can be our single protective gear.
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