Outbreaks of diseases transmitted from animals to humans have increased by 63% in Africa over the past decade, according to the latest figures from the World Health Organization.

A surge in transmission between 2012 and 2022 could mean the world faces an increase in animal-borne diseases, including Ebola, monkey pox and CORONAVIRUS INFECTION COVID – that “probably” is comes from a bat, according to a World Health Organization (WHO) report published last year.

A particular increase was seen between 2019 and 2020, when diseases that originated in animals before jumping to humans accounted for half of all significant health events in Africa.

Diseases including Ebola and other infectious diseases were responsible for about 70% of those events, along with diseases such as monkeypox, anthrax and plague, the WHO said in a statement on Thursday.

WHO Africa Director Dr Matidissa Moeti said we must act now to contain zoonotic diseases – which occur when pathogens, including viruses, spread from animals to humans – before they cause “widespread infections”.

She urged world leaders to stop “turning Africa into a hot spot for new infectious diseases.”

Intercontinental travel has made it easier for the virus to cross borders, Dr. Moetti warned.

Africa’s population is growing at the fastest rate in the world, leading to increased urbanization and shrinking space for wildlife to roam.

Scientists fear this means outbreaks once contained to remote rural areas could spread more quickly to major African cities with international tourist links, spreading disease around the world.

Wildlife charities and scientists have warned about this before widespread destruction of natural habitats increases the risk of further pandemics.

Dr Mike Barrett, executive director of science and conservation at the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), has warned that deforestation is bringing people into closer contact with animals, increasing the risk of zoonotic transmission.

“We’ve created the perfect petri dish for pathogens to spread,” he said.

“At the heart of this problem is the conversion of more and more habitat to produce agricultural products for international supply chains.

“As we destroy forests like the Amazon, we increase the risk of the next pandemic.”

Meanwhile, owners of cats with COVID or symptoms were last year warned against hugging their pets after scientists discovered that humans could infect their animals.

The warning came after two separate cases of human-to-cat transmission of the virus were identified during a UK feline population screening program at the University of Glasgow.


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