ACTA VET. BRNO 2006, 75: 151-152


Book Review                     


Emerging zoonoses and pathogens of public health concern. Rev. Sci. Tech. Off. Int. Epiz., Vol. 23 (2) August 2004 of 306 pages. ISSN 0253-1933, ISBN 92-9044-621-8


The book composed of 21 papers dedicated to emerging and re-emerging zoonoses and pathogens of public health importance, opens with the introduction elaborated by Dr L. J. King,  Editor. In the initial overview paper Dr C. Brown is stressing that the reasons for disease emergence are multiple, but  there are two main factors – the expansion of the human population and the globalization of trade. Re-emerging diseases are diseases which were once decreasing, but are now rapidly increasing again. Classical public health and sanitation measures have long served to minimise dissemination and human exposure to many pathogens which are spread by traditional routes or are preventable by immunization or vector control. However, the pathogens themselves often still remain in small pockets of infection and may therefore re-emerge if circumstances allow. Often these circumstances are breakdowns in disease prevention and control measures. The document explores the biological, socio-economic, ecological, and anthropogenic factors that are creating the conditions for a “storm” of emerging and re-emerging zoonoses. Over last several decades, there has been an average of almost one new emerging disease each year, and approximately 75 % of these diseases have been zoonotic.


The publication represents a compilation of chapters that describe the critical factors of emerging zoonoses, demonstrate the importance of a growing human/animal interface, emphasise the critical nature of the global food system and review a number of important, viral, bacterial and parasitic diseases. As recent emerging zoonoses are described: Ebola virosis, Nipah virosis, BSE, sever acute respiratory syndrome (SARS),  highly pathogenic avian influenza (H9N2 strain), infection of Escherichia coli strain O157:H7, Hanta virosis, Hendra virosis, West Nile fever, monkeypox, etc. Among re-emerging zoonoses are included: Rift Valley fever, Japanese encephalitis, Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever, leishmaniosis, lyssavirus infections, bovine tuberculosis, brucellosis, bartonellosis, ehrlichiosis, Lyme borreliosis, plague, tularemia, leptospirosis and paratuberculosis.


With the tremendous acceleration and expansion of global trade, human movement and travel and the burgeoning global population of both people and animals, the microbes have an even greater opportunity to adapt, change and be transported to new hosts and ecosystems, often with catastrophic results. Changes in  weather, climate, ecosystem, animal production systems, economic development and land use continue to alter the dynamic between hosts, vectors and microbes in novel ways. Particular concern is expressed about the growing number of pathogens that are acquiring resistance to antimicrobials, the reduction of resources in support of veterinary and public health infrastructure worldwide, and also the prospect of  international introductions of  zoonotic pathogens.


Two contributions are of more general character. In the paper of A. Thiermann, President, OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Standards Commission entitled “ Emerging diseases and implications for global trade” there are some interesting formulations: “Historically, too much emphasis has been placed on how a country or zone can reach ‘disease free’ status and then base the safety of its trade on such freedom”. “The OIE is taking a new approach to setting standards and revising existing ones: the categorization of a country/zone status is first based on the assessment of the overall level of risk present in the country/zone or animal population, rather than on whether a disease has been reported or not.” These statements could be understood as an underestimation of the importance of disease free status and  disease reporting for international trade. Importing countries need normal fair trade avoiding pathogen import instead of pseudoscientific non-quantifiable risk speculations facilitating  also export of non-healthy animals and non-pathogen-free products. It is a pity that the author didn’t consider also the impact of global trade on emerging diseases’ spreading. K. Ben Jebara, Head, Animal Health Information Department, OIE in his paper ”Surveillance, detection and responses: managing emerging diseases at national and international levels” didn’t consider that  information on zoonoses occurrence provided by the OIE  is absolutely insufficient. There is significantly less information than a decade ago, and that some important zoonoses are not monitored at all.


There is obviously a new appreciation for the growing range of factors creating the conditions for the emergence and re-emergence of zoonotic pathogens. This issue of the Review emphasises the importance of these factors and their dynamic interactions and gives many well documented examples of the results of these relationships. The topics also highlight the global nature of zoonoses and the expanded scope and scale of their significance for both human and animal health. Emerging zoonoses of public health concern will profoundly change animal health activities worldwide. There is every indication that this era of emerging infectious diseases will continue unabated. This review is expected to stimulate better preparation of animal health services and organizations to respond to these new disease threats that will undoubtedly produce a new group of epidemics in the years to come.




                                                       Prof. MVDr Václav Kouba, DrSc.