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REPORT: The connection between animal agriculture, viral zoonoses, and global pandemics

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Meeting the demand for animal protein by ramping-up intensive production is generating new pathways for the dissemination of viruses and the evolution of new viral strains.

HSI: The sources of pandemics can be as varied as the diseases they represent. This paper examines how pandemic and potentially pandemic zoonotic diseases as well as viruses spread directly from the agricultural environments where animals are used as immediate, intermediate or amplifier hosts.

The paper finds that the intensification and industrialization of animal agriculture creates a large, susceptible anti-genically naive population, which nature will exploit. Meeting the demand for animal protein by ramping up intensive production around the world alters viral host dynamics, generating new pathways for the dissemination of viruses and the evolution of new viral strains…

The way society interacts with animals has serious implications for global human health. Zoonotic diseases are emerging in situations where the welfare of animals is poor, either through their confinement in intensive production facilities or live animal markets, as they are transported locally or internationally, or where farming encroaches on the habitat of wild animals.

The virus that will cause the next global pandemic could already be circulating among farmed animals. While we cannot eliminate epidemics, we can decrease the chances that the next one will result from risky agricultural practices. SOURCE…

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