The World Bank estimated in 2010 that zoonotic diseases had cost global
economies more than $20 billion in direct costs over the previous
decade, with a further $200 billion in indirect costs. Human population
growth, rising demand for meat and dairy products, and climate change
are driving rapid transformation in the nature of livestock systems.
This poses a potential threat to human and animal health, as many
diseases can be passed from wild or domesticated animals to humans. Such
diseases are defined as zoonoses and may affect livestock production and
reduce market access. The economic cost of treating the diseases is
heightened by the burden of reduced labour and income. Interventions to
control zoonoses therefore require concerted action between the
veterinary and human health sectors, because they affect both people and
This briefing introduces the Zoonoses and Emerging Livestock Systems
(ZELS) initiative: 11 projects which will investigate emerging and
endemic zoonotic diseases in developing countries. UK researchers will
work in partnership with more than 30 overseas institutes and
organisations to generate scientific evidence to inform the selection of
risk-based and cost-effective prevention and control options aimed at
decreasing the likelihood of occurrence, preventing the transmission,
and reducing the impact of major zoonotic diseases.
A key outcome of these collaborations is to enhance the scientific
capabilities of developing countries for the longer term. £1.5M of the
funding has been set aside specifically to do this; 15 students from the
UK and developing countries will receive doctoral training in ZELS
related research. By bringing together world-class scientists from
various disciplines and from around the globe, the initiative aims to
improve the health and well-being of animals, humans and the environment
and, ultimately, enhance the lives of millions of people.
Anon. Zoonoses and Emerging Livestock Systems (ZELS) - Reducing the risk to livestock and people. BBSRC, Swindon, UK (2014) 16 pp.
Zoonoses and Emerging Livestock Systems (ZELS) - Reducing the risk to livestock and people