What causes this, and how can we prevent this?

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More epidemics originating in animals are expected to occur

 COVID, salmonella,  avian influenza, Lyme  and West Nile fever

There are over 150 known zoonoses: diseases that can transfer from animals to humans

  This does not always result in symptoms

Can all zoonoses spread among humans?

No, normally, such illnesses jump from an animal to a human but spread no further among humans

Video credits: Videvo

Video credits: Videvo

70% of new infectious diseases in humans originated in animals

The swine flu in 2009 originated in pigs, and HIV originated in the 1920s in a chimpanzee

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How does one become infected by a zoonosis?

1. Direct or indirect contact 2. Insect bite 3. Contaminated food/ water 4. Through the air 5. Through faeces

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Zoonoses and livestock farming

Diseases spread more easily where animals are housed in close quarters

Occasionally, animal diseases may jump to humans, as was the case with Q-fever

This is why there are strict monitoring systems

Through continuous research, we are able to intervene rapidly, like with bird flu

Zoonoses and wild animals

There are many different species of wild animals, each of which has its own pathogens that may occasionally infect humans

We may expect more frequent epidemics

Because interaction between humans and animal species change and increase


The animals’ habitats shift as a result of climate change

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Temperature increase benefits “tropical” viruses 

Such as West Nile virus that was recently found in the Netherlands


For example, there are more outbreaks of Ebola and Malaria in areas with deforestation

People disturb the wild animals’ habitat

Globalisation: there is increased global travel

This enables the rapid spreading of pathogens across great distances


World population growth

Many people living close together increases the risk of rapid spreading


Increased demand for animal proteins, leading to more livestock farming

Cattle can contribute to disease spread, such as the Nipah virus in Malaysia, that jumped from bats to pigs to humans


Wageningen scientists aim to be prepared for new epidemics

Various disciplines collaborate on  this issue

Want to learn more on how we prevent  new epidemics? 

Video credits: Videvo