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UN warns the world to be prepared for upcoming global Ebola outbreaks


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(NaturalNews) Ongoing human encroachment into and disruption of wildlife habitats will only increase the rate at which diseases like Ebola emerge, warned the UN Secretary-General's special envoy on Ebola, Dr. David Nabarro, in an interview with The Independent.

Nabarro said that "zoonotic diseases" like Ebola - those that cross from animals to humans - are a "local and global threat to humanity."

"I've been dealing with influenzas and SARS and MERS, they are a tip of the iceberg," Nabarro said.

Researchers believe that the deadly flu-like disease known as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) originated in wild animals and crossed to humans when such animals were sold at food markets in China. Similarly, the emerging disease known as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, which has killed more than 350 people, is believed to have originated in bats, then moved to camels and from there to human beings.

How human activities created the Ebola outbreak

A great many common human diseases, including influenza, are thought to have originated in other species. But while humans have had many generations to adapt to diseases that crossed the species barrier thousands of years ago, we have far lesser defenses against new zoonotic threats.

Ebola is one of the most well known and deadliest recent zoonotic diseases. Believed to have originated in fruit bats, the disease typically spreads to humans only through the consumption of hunted "bush meat." Once an outbreak is established, however, the disease spreads between humans relatively easily.

The ongoing Ebola outbreak in west Africa has already killed more than 10,000 people in just over a year. And in spite of recent promising news, Nabarro warns that the outbreak is nowhere near over yet, in large part because the disease is not yet under control in Guinea. Nabarro criticized the international community for reacting to the Ebola outbreak too late, and for giving too little assistance to Guinea, which had the first documented case.

"On all indicators the situation in Guinea is a little bit more concerning," Nabarro said. "People would say the international response for Guinea was proportionate given that it had far fewer cases, but it did get much less money. If you look at in terms of population, in terms of land mass, it wasn't enough."

World not ready for the next Ebola

The current Ebola outbreak is a classic example of how human activities make zoonotic epidemics more likely. Prior to the outbreak, Ebola had never before been seen in west Africa. But according to some researchers, deforestation and increasing population have driven more west African residents into wilder areas, increasing the frequency of human-wildlife contact. In addition, changing rainfall patterns seem to have changed the population and behavior patterns of the bats that carry Ebola.

All these factors are of major concern across the world, experts warn, particularly in tropical regions.

"There will be more: One, because people are moving around more; two, because the contact between humans and the wild is on the increase; and maybe because of climate change," Nabarro said. "The worry we always have is that there will be a really infectious and beastly bug that comes along."

The threat is grave enough, Nabarro said, that the world needs to adopt a "systemic" prevention and response plan.

"It is surprising to me, given the nature of the threat, that the investment is so low, compared with investment in, for example, potential terrorist threats," he said.

People who are worried about the possibility of a global pandemic can also visit biodefense.com to take a free online course in pandemic preparedness, taught by Mike Adams the Health Ranger.

(Natural News Science)

Sources:

http://www.independent.co.uk

http://biodefense.com

http://www.who.int/zoonoses/en/
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