New infectious animal diseases that affect public health and have the capacity to cross borders will continue to emerge around the globe. These diseases could potentially develop human-to-human transmissibility; thus they incite public fear. A proactive approach to disease risk management that combines foresight, prevention, impact mitigation, early detection, and swift and effective responses is warranted.
The recent Ebola Virus Disease outbreak in West Africa claimed the lives of 11,300 people. In all, 25,601 persons were infected. But these are only the official numbers for the three countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone – the true number of victims is thought to be considerably higher. How could the crisis assume such dramatic proportions? The authors give accounts of their analyses on Ebola outbreak and response, but also of their personal experiences during their work in the countries concerned.
Against the backdrop of current developments surrounding COVID-19, the “One Health” approach is gaining momentum. It is based on the insight that zoonoses, i.e. diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans, can be predicted, prevented and controlled much more quickly and at a lesser cost than if the two disciplines are working separately. But the One Health concept also implies that human and animal health are intrinsically linked to the health of our environment. In other words, it is a comprehensive approach that reaches way beyond tackling infectious diseases.