Pandemic: How zoonoses can be prevented in the future

The risk of pandemics would decrease if animal welfare were a central part of pandemic prevention plans. This is the conclusion reached by 29 experts from the research disciplines of virology, human and veterinary medicine and climate research who were involved in a future study published by the NGO “Vier Pfoten”. The NGO saw it as “a clear mandate for the upcoming international pandemic agreement of the WHO”.

Animal welfare has a significant impact on pandemics

According to the scientists – including Austrian experts such as the climate researcher Helga Kromp-Kolb, the food scientist and geophysicist Kurt Schmidinger, the livestock scientist Christoph Winckler and the environmental doctor Hanns Moshammer – the influence of animal welfare on pandemics such as COVID-19 is significantly underestimated. Zoonoses – diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans as well as vice versa – are “a clear symptom of the severe crisis between humans, animals and the environment”.

Humans promote the environment for zoonoses

The “most brutal forms of this imbalance are at the same time the greatest drivers for the development of zoonoses: factory farming, live animal markets and fur farms”. Habitat destruction and climate change are further fueling the leap of the virus from animals to humans.

Prevention must take animal handling into account

The scientific recommendation is therefore: The risk of pandemics would decrease if animal welfare were a central component of pandemic prevention plans. The outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 has “clearly shown that the health of individuals is the condition for the health of all. Animal welfare must be on the global political agenda in order to develop effective preventive measures for future pandemics”.

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