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World Zoonoses Day: Expert Calls For Awareness, Prevention Of Animal-to-Human Diseases’ Transmissions

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A health worker vaccinating a cattle.

As part of the commemoration of the 2024 World Zoonoses Day, an infectious diseases expert has emphasised the need for increased awareness and proactive measures to prevent diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans.

Dr. Ishaku Akyala, an associate professor of infectious diseases and public health epidemiology at the Nasarawa State University, Keffi, highlighted the importance of understanding and combatting zoonotic diseases such as rabies, Ebola and Lyme disease, which pose significant health risks globally.

World Zoonoses Day, observed every July 6, commemorates the anniversary of the first rabies vaccine administered by Louis Pasteur in 1885. It serves as a reminder of the ongoing efforts required to combat zoonotic diseases and protect public health.

Akyala stressed the need for increased vigilance, prevention, and a united national effort to address the ongoing challenge of zoonotic diseases, which account for over 60 per cent of emerging infectious diseases in humans. He emphasised the importance of better surveillance, improved diagnostics and effective public health strategies to mitigate these risks.

The theme for World Zoonoses Day 2024 is “Preventing the Spread of Zoonotic Disease” and underscoring the progress in controlling zoonotic diseases, as well as the significance of continued collaboration to eradicate them.

Zoonotic pathogens can spread to humans through contact with domestic, agricultural or wild animals and certain groups such as agricultural workers and individuals living close to wilderness areas are at a higher risk of exposure to these diseases. The COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted the urgency of addressing zoonotic threats, making it essential to invest in research, education and cross-sectoral collaboration to prevent future pandemics.

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