I’ve touched on diseases that can jump species before, but I don’t feel guilty for returning to it so quickly because there’s another positive story to tell.
Species-jumping pathogens pose special dangers to people because the human immune system may not be equipped to deal with them, and while Egypt may have reported another human death due to avian influenza this month, Vietnam, it would seem, is making headway in bringing animal diseases under control.
The Voice of Vietnam reports that the country has been praised for its achievements in preventing animal diseases and animal-to-human epidemics over the past five years. The praise came at the Partnership in Avian Flu and Human Influenza’s international consultative conference held on June 21.
Over the last half decade, Vietnam has invested over VND4 trillion (US$194 million) in veterinary work, including equipment for laboratories and testing centres, safe breeding processes for farms and vaccination campaigns to reduce epidemics. The country has also conducted training courses for the public and government agencies on the management of public health emergencies. Further investments are planned.
This is good news for all of us as with increasing air travel, climate change, population growth and rising demand for meat products; what happens over there can quickly happen over here. Bringing about change at a local level and involving the local population, as Vietnam is doing, is increasingly recognized as the best way to tackle any animal disease. I wonder how many other countries are doing the same?
Praise for Vietnam comes on the heels of the announcement that rinderpest has been eliminated globally, and that the next big livestock disease to be targeted will be foot and mouth disease. The Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Organisation for Animal Health plan to hold a pledging conference next summer to help fund vaccine development.
This is great news, but while foot and mouth disease may be hugely important in economic terms, it rarely jumps to humans. My good news for the week must be the achievements in Vietnam.