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Controlling wildlife trade key to preventing health crises, study says

According to a study by the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society, controlling the movements of wildlife in markets is a cost-effective means of keeping potential deadly pandemics such as SARS and influenza from occurring. The study appears in the July edition of the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases. The cost of controlling the spread of diseases afflicting both human and animal populations has reached hundreds of billions of dollars globally.

"Few threats to global health--including poverty, security issues or climate change--are as immediately manageable as the global trade in wildlife," said Dr. William Karesh, lead author on the study and head of WCS' Field Veterinary Program. "By focusing our prevention efforts on wildlife markets to regulate, and wherever reasonable eliminate, this trade, we can significantly decrease the risks of disease for humans, domestic animals, wildlife and ecosystems."

According to the study, every year millions of wild animals pass through markets on their way to regional or international destinations. Along the way, hunters, middle marketers, and consumers experience either direct or indirect contact with each animal traded. The pathogens, and even commonly benign microbes these animals carry are sometimes transmitted to other species, including humans, in the process. Domestic animals and wild scavengers in market places and villages also consume the waste and remnants of infected trade animals providing further opportunity for cross-species transmission.

Since 1980, at least 35 new infectious diseases, including HIV and Ebola Hemorraghic Fever, have emerged in humans, averaging one disease every 8 months. Besides the direct impact on people, the transmission of wildlife-borne pathogens also affects domestic animals and native species that have no resistance to exotic diseases.

Dr. Robert Cook, Vice President of Health Sciences at WCS said, "A fungal disease called chytridiomycosis, a pathog
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Source:Wildlife Conservation Society


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