Risk Reduction Guidelines on Zoonosis

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    Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO), World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) have laid down fresh guidelines for governments to reduce the risk of transmission of zoonotic pathogens to humans in food production and marketing chains.

    • The call for action comes as the world grapples with a resurgence of Covid-19.

    About the Guidelines

    • Emergency regulations to suspend live wild animal sales.
      • Suspend the trade in live caught wild animals of mammalian species for food or breeding in traditional food markets, also known as “wet markets”.
      • Close sections of food markets selling live caught wild animals of mammalian species as an emergency measure unless demonstrable effective regulations and adequate risk assessment are in place.
    • Improving standards of hygiene and sanitation.
      • Strengthen the regulatory basis for improving standards of hygiene and sanitation in traditional food markets to reduce the risk of transmission of zoonotic diseases.
      • During this pandemic, additional measures for crowd control and physical distancing as well as education on respiratory hygiene should be introduced to limit the possibility of person-to-person transmission of disease.
    • Controlling the farming and sale of wild animals intended for human consumption.
      • Conduct risk assessments to provide the evidence base for developing regulations to control the risks of transmission of zoonotic microorganisms from farmed and caught wild animals intended for breeding or human consumption.
      • Regulations should address the traceability of farmed wild animals to ensure that they are distinguished from caught wild animals and should include strict biosecurity measures.
    • Training of food and veterinary inspectors.
      • Ensure that food inspectors are adequately trained to ensure that businesses comply with regulations to protect consumers’ health and are held accountable.
      • Competent authorities should be adequately resourced, so that regulations are consistently enforced.
    • Strengthening surveillance systems for zoonotic pathogens.
      • Strengthen animal health surveillance systems for zoonotic pathogens and include both domestic and wild animals.
        • This will provide an early warning for pathogen emergence and provide the evidence base for the development of controls to prevent risks to human health, in association with public health surveillance systems.
    • Food safety information campaigns.
      • Develop and implement food safety information campaigns for market traders, stall holders, consumers and the wider general public.
      • These should communicate the principles of food safety and the risks of transmission of zoonotic pathogens and the risks associated with the consumption and trade of wildlife.
      • These should also disseminate information to all stakeholders about the importance of biodiversity and the need for any use of wildlife to be legal, sustainable, safe and responsible.
    Zoonosis

    • It is an infectious disease caused by a pathogen that originated in animals but jumped to humans directly or through an intermediary species, food, water and the environment.
    • The World Zoonoses Day is observed on 6th July every year.
    • Concerns
      • Animals have played an essential role in maintaining zoonotic infections, bacterial, viral or parasitic, in nature.
      • There is a risk of exposure to the mucus, saliva, urine and other bodily fluids of the infected animals.
      • There is also the risk of becoming infected in areas where animals are housed or from contact with objects as well as surfaces that have been contaminated.
    • Growth Factors
      • Intensive livestock farming and agriculture are among the many reasons that have disrupted the human-animal-environment interface.
      • High stocking density of genetically similar breeds (poultry, pigs, dairy and fish) aimed at productivity, confined living conditions and limited focus on animal husbandry act as hotspots for infection causing bacteria or virus to multiply and spread.
      • Routine use of chemicals or drugs such as antibiotics to prevent infections and as a substitute to hygiene and sanitation, exacerbates antimicrobial resistance (AMR), a global public health threat and a pandemic of chronic nature.
      • Other factors such as growing population, international trade of exotic animals, loss of natural wildlife habitats owing to deforestation for urbanisation or agriculture have expedited pathogen spillover from animals to humans.
    • Prevention
      • The solutions align to key stages of the trade chain such as supply (production and sourcing), transaction (transport and sale), and demand (consumption), however, need to be assessed in regard to the local, regional and international context before implementation.
        • Supply-side Interventions: Increased focus on improving animal health and hygiene standards in farms by reducing stocking density and ensuring access to veterinary care, preventing mixing of domesticated animals with those of wild origin and improving biosecurity of farming practices.
        • Transport and Sale Aspect: Reducing risk of disease transmission during transport and also during slaughter, processing or sale.
        • Demand-side Interventions: Increased awareness and promotion of voluntary behaviour change in consumers, coupled with options for increasing cost of purchasing or consuming high-risk products.
      • Implementation of these approaches will also need the right enablers such as capacity, resource, laws and regulations.
      • Reducing dependence on intensive systems and considering more sustainable systems of producing food will not only allow for reduced emergence of zoonotic diseases, but also make way for preserving human health and environment.

    Source: DTE