COVID-19, caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, presented an unprecedented challenge to public health. Globally, 5.76 million people (and counting) have lost their lives since the pandemic began.
Even as COVID-19 extracts its heavy toll, new zoonotic pathogens are emerging. These are disease-causing viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites, transmitted from animals to humans. One estimate suggests that 3 in 4 emerging pathogens are zoonotic in origin.
Meanwhile, over 150 existing zoonotic diseases – from rabies to Nipah virus to leptospirosis – continue to threaten populations around the world. The burden of vector-borne diseases (many of them zoonotic) is increasing apace.
Over the last several decades, the disease risks to human populations have grown rapidly, driven by deforestation; the wildlife trade and wild meat consumption; climate change; and the intensification of industrial animal agriculture. Populations in Asia are among the most vulnerable to these impacts.
This special reporting series seeks to shed light on these complex intersections of epidemiology and ecology. How can public health officials – and the public – begin to break these chains of transmission?
Recognizing “the interconnection between people, animals, plants and their shared environment” scientists, policymakers and public health professionals are actively promoting the One Health approach. How successful are these efforts to identify and manage vector-borne and zoonotic diseases on the ground? And what more needs to be done to prevent the next outbreak?
In late-2021, we awarded 16 journalists from eight countries grants to report on the threat of potential spillovers and its causes; solutions that address the root causes of these threats; and local and international efforts to improve ecological and human health, within the One Health framework. We collaborated with Internews' Health Journalism Network to mentor journalists through the story production process and to produce resources to guide reporters covering zoonoses and One Health. Stay tuned for more.