The study, detailed this week in the report "Mapping of Poverty and Likely Zoonoses Hotspots," shows the vast majority of these illnesses and deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries. For instance, Africa's Ethiopia, Nigeria and Tanzania, along with India, had the highest rates of associated illness and death.
"From cyst-causing tapeworms to avian flu, zoonoses present a major threat to human and animal health," lead study author Delia Grace, a veterinary epidemiologist and food safety expert with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Kenya, said in a statement. "Targeting the diseases in the hardest-hit countries is crucial to protecting global health as well as to reducing severe levels of poverty and illness among the world's 1 billion poor livestock keepers."
The new global zoonosis map, an update of one published in the journal Nature in 2008, also revealed the northeastern United States, Western Europe (particularly the United Kingdom), Brazil and parts of Southeast Asia may be hotspots of "emerging zoonoses." An emerging zoonosis is a disease that is newly infecting humans, has just become virulent, or has just become drug-resistant.
About 60 percent of all human diseases and 75 percent of all emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic, according to the researchers. Most human infections with zoonoses come from livestock, including pigs, chickens, cattle, goats, sheep and camels.