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 animals.
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.