What is World Zoonoses Day?
World Zoonoses Day, which takes place on July 6 every year, is a day to help raise awareness of the growing risk of zoonotic diseases, which are diseases that can be spread from animals to humans. It’s a risk that is often overlooked, however over 60% of infectious diseases in humans and 75% of emerging human diseases originated in animals, so it’s a risk that we at Merial take very seriously

World Zoonosis Day is also particularly important to us as it commemorates July 6, 1885, when Louis Pasteur successfully administered the first vaccine against, a zoonotic disease, to Joseph Meister after he had been mauled by a rabid dog.

What are Zoonoses?

Zoonoses are viral diseases like rabies and influenza, bacterial diseases such as Lyme disease and brucellosis, or parasitic diseases such as tapeworms. All of these are diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans. With our broad range of vaccines and products that treat or prevent these and over 200 other animal diseases, Merial works hand-in-hand with veterinarians, governments, farmers and pet owners to provide health management solutions for animals

Why are the risks of Zoonotic Diseases increasing? 

The speed with which diseases can spread from one region to another has greatly increased."

Silke Bilenbach

There are a number of trends that underlie the emergence of zoonotic. Deforestation and the destruction of eco-systems are bringing people into closer contact with wildlife, For example, the use of bush meat as a food source has been linked to the emergence of several zoonotic diseases such as SARS and HIV. In addition, increased temperatures are expanding the ranges of disease vectors, such as mosquitoes or ticks, so areas where diseases did not exist before are being exposed to them for the first time, as observed with West Nile in the United States. Finally, globalization, the increase in international travel, and increased trade between nations, means that the speed with which diseases can spread from one region to another has greatly increased.

What are the impacts of zoonotic disease?

Zoonotic diseases can cause extensive human suffering and death. Rabies, a vaccine-preventable disease transmitted mostly by dogs, kills about 160 people per day. Influenza viruses circulating in farm animals can also give rise to human pandemics with dramatic consequences

Outbreaks of zoonotic disease can be devastating for the economies of both developed and developing nations. The 2014/2015 outbreak of avian influenza, or “bird flu”, in the U.S. led to 48 million birds being euthanised and was estimated to have caused economy-wide losses of around US$3.3 billion. Over the past decade, avian influenza has led to the culling of 200 million birds in Asia, resulting in economic losses of over US$10 billion.

Zoonotic diseases can be especially overwhelming for rural economies"

Silke Birlenbach

Zoonotic diseases can be especially overwhelming for rural economies, where losing livestock can mean losing the main source of income, as well as locomotion if it affects large animals. Compounded by potential barriers to trade that may be placed on the affected area, families can be driven into poverty and, if widespread, it may even lead to famine. The World Health Organization estimates the number of poor livestock keepers at somewhere between 500 million and 900 million. The precarious position of these people who depend on their animals for survival is yet another reason why prevention and control of all animal diseases, including zoonoses, is particularly important for human health and well-being.

How is Merial helping to control zoonoses and animal disease?

In the public health space specifically, Merial experts work with governments and international organizations in order to combat infectious diseases with major impact on people and economies, like Foot and Mouth Disease, Blue Tongue Virus, and Rabies. Rabies is of particular concern to public health officials: a contagious zoonotic disease, it is almost 100% fatal once symptoms appear. Even though it is 100% preventable, the World Health Organization estimates that 59,000 people die from rabies annually, mostly in developing countries and mostly from being bitten by infected dogs.

Merial has recently intensified its commitment to help fight emerging, trans-boundary and zoonotic diseases by creating a new dedicated global structure, the Veterinary Public Health (VPH) Center, to support governments, NGOs  and private customers with the right tools, such as vaccines, strategic reserve banks, partnerships, combined with expert advice and solutions. We are proud at Merial to have been a global partner for government authorities and NGOs worldwide for over 60 years, to devise comprehensive strategies to help control infectious, often zoonotic, diseases. We are looking forward to continuing to partner with our customers to help control and eradicate emerging, trans-boundary, and zoonotic diseases worldwide.

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