Most emerging human diseases come from animals. This map, created by the International Livestock Research Institute, shows the geographical locations of events where a disease has crossed over from animals to humans. Do you live near a hotspot?
The entire study, which is published in Nature, found that just 13 zoonoses — the name given to diseases which are capable of being transferred between species — are responsible for 2.4 billion cases of human illness and 2.2 million deaths per year.
While they used to be concentrated in Europe and the US, the majority of new events tend to be identified in developing countries. The map above shows the distribution (click for a larger version). Delia Grace, one of the researchers, explains:
“From cyst-causing tapeworms to avian flu, zoonoses present a major threat to human and animal health. 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 one billion poor livestock keepers. Exploding global demand for livestock products is likely to fuel the spread of a wide range of human-animal infectious diseases.”