Industrial Livestock Production and Global Health Risks
Recent emergence of contagious human diseases from animals, such as Nipah in 1999, SARS in 2002 and the current epidemic of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), which has so far caused the death of nearly 200 people, have heightened public awareness of linkages between wild animals, livestock production and global public health. The risk of disease transmission from animals to humans will increase in future, due to human and livestock population growth, dramatic changes in livestock production, the emergence of worldwide agro- food networks, and a significant increase in mobility of people and goods.
The case of HPAI highlights how a new viral challenge can emerge from wildlife, by first adapting and then circulating within domestic poultry populations with subsequent risks for humans and other animal species. HPAI also clearly illustrates that through extending livestock supply chains, local conditions of animal production have repercussions on global human health risks.