Contagious diseases cause lots of panic and anxiety when it breaks out. The whole city or country where it is first discovered is put on high alert because of uncertainty. The whole world is rattled, especially if it is a disease that has not been previously known to human, or health professionals, as can be seen with the recent outbreak of Coronavirus in Wuhan city of China, officially named Covid-19 by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Covid-19 has no known method of treatment or vaccine to prevent transmission. However, WHO announced that there are 102 potential vaccines with 8 given approval for clinical trial. In addition U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Friday, gave an emergency approval to Gilead’s Remdesivir for Coronavirus treatment.
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The world has seen many outbreaks of such disease caused by a virus or bacteria that has jumped from the animal host to human (Zoonotic diseases) and then be transmitted from human to human.
The fatality can sometimes run into hundreds of thousand or even millions in rare cases, such as the Black death that killed over 200 million people in Europe between the years 1347 to 1351. Spanish flu which infected an estimated 500 million people with about 50 million deaths between 1918 and 1920. or HIV that has claimed over 32million lives as at Dec 2018 since its emergence according to UNAIDS in 2019.
The jumping of Zoonotic diseases (such as infectious viruses, fungi, bacteria or parasites from animal hosts to human can be dated to thousands or millions of years ago. BBC reported on 13th January 2016, that more than three quarters (75%) of emerging infectious diseases come from animals.
In recent times many contagious diseases that made the jump from animal hosts to humans include Ebola virus, Lyme disease in USA 1975, HIV & AIDS in USA 1983, H5N1 ( Avian Influenza) in China 1997, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in China 2003, H1N1(Swine Influenza) in Mexico 2009, Middle-East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in 2012.
The most recent is Coronavirus (Covid-19) in China 2019 which has put the global health system on its toes. The question that a lot of people grapple with is how can these diseases hop from animal hosts to human?
This is the latest of all the zoonotic diseases that has jumped from animal hosts to human. Covid-19 has once again startled the world, and everyone is put on alert due to the risks of contracting the virus. Countries are putting up preventive and control measures to contain the outbreak which was said to originate from a live animal market in Wuhan city in the Hubei province of China in December 2019.
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However, there are reports that Coronavirus (Covid-19) originated from a lab in China. That scientists at Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) were engaged in experiments with bat Coronavirus, and the virus escaped and infected humans. The U.S has launched an investigation to ascertain the origin of the virus which has changed our world as we know it.
According to John Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center there are 3,369,208 with 239,448 deaths and 1,060,875 recoveries as at 15:54GMT. David Quammen a science writer said that the current Covid-19 would not be the last zoonotic disease that will hop from animal to human.
Symptoms of Coronavirus (Covid-19)
Covid-19 is a new and very infectious disease that affects the lungs and airways. It can be transmitted from human to human before the symptoms are developed making it more contagious than SARS-Cov, MERS or Ebola. It can be contracted through contact with secretions or cough droplets of the infected person.
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Though many information about the covi-19 is still unknown to health professionals and scientist. According NHS-UK the main symptoms of Covid-19 include fever with cough, and shortness of breath. Loss of taste has been recently added to the symptoms in the U.S
Studies have shown that elderly people and sick people or those with underlying health conditions are most at risk and the mortality rate in these group of people is high.
How Zoonotic Diseases Spread from Animal Hosts to Humans
There are several ways human can contract pathogens like virus or bacteria from animal host. These includes
- Closely working with livestock, or wild animals. This can also be from live animal market.
- Transmission can occur from bite or scratch by infected animals.
- Direct contact with contaminated areas such as soil, trees, fruits, vegetables.
- Consumption of contaminated dairy products or uncooked animal products.
- Consumption of contaminated water.
- Transmission through vector-borne mechanisms such as mosquito, flies, tick-borne, fleas or lice
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How to Prevent the Jump of Zoonotic Diseases from Animal hosts to Human
Maintaining good personal hygiene is a very important factor. Protective clothing should be worn while handling livestock or wild animals. Ensure that your pets are given adequate medical care and vaccines. Consume pasteurised dairy products. Ensure that meats are properly cooked.
How to Prevent Human to Human Transmission of Contagious Zoonotic Diseases.
Preventive Measures according NHS-UK, Chinese State Media, WHO, and CDC-USA
- Don’t touch your mouth, eyes, nose or open skin areas with an uncleaned hand.
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water (preferably warm water). However, hand sanitizer can be used if water is not readily available (preferably alcohol-based sanitizer).
- Avoid close contact with sick people.
- Use tissue or the sleeve of your clothes to cover your mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing.
- Immediately dispose of used tissues in the waste bin.
- Enforced Quarantine or self-imposed quarantine if you believe you have contracted the virus.
- Infected persons should avoid public places, gatherings, visiting people or receiving visitors.
- Avoid the use of public transport system.
Good outbreak control depends heavily on intervention packages such as management of cases, practices to control and prevent infections, monitoring and identifying contacts of infected person, a good testing facility, social awareness so that people will be informed about the disease and majors to take in protecting themselves and others. Safe and proper burial for the dead should be also be ensured