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Emerging diseases require a global solution

The threat of potential pandemics such as Ebola, SARS, and avian influenza demands a more holistic approach to disease control, one that prevents diseases from crossing the divide between humans, their livestock, and wildlife, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in the most recent issue of the journal Foreign Affairs. This "One World, One Health" concept, as described by WCS veterinary staff, calls for the integration of efforts to deal proactively with disease threats to human and animal health before they reach crisis levels.

"As of yet, no single agency or organization focuses on the myriad diseases that move across the interface between people, their domestic animals and wildlife," said Dr. William Karesh, one of the co-authors of "One World, One Health" and the director of WCS' Field Veterinary Program. "There is only 'one health,' and future programs must factor in the complexity of how emerging diseases move among humans and other species."

The paper--titled "The Human-Animal Link"--is one of several in the July/August issue of Foreign Affairs focusing on pandemic diseases.

Karesh and co-author Dr. Bob Cook--WCS vice president and chief veterinarian of the society's Wildlife Health Center--developed the "One World, One Health" concept in response to the increased vulnerability of humanity and animals to a host of diseases that are capable of adapting to other species and moving across the globe through the rapid transportation of goods and people. Many of these diseases can move back and forth between species, mutating into more virulent, resistant forms. Over 60 percent of the 1,415 infectious diseases currently known to modern medicine are capable of infecting both humans and animals. Most of these diseases originated in animals and now infect people.

On the local level, the communities that rely on wildlife for their protein are vulnerable to pathogens from the forest. The AIDS virus may have entered huma
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Contact: John Delaney
jdelaney@wcs.org
1-718-220-3275
Wildlife Conservation Society
16-Jun-2005


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