Bloomberg News

Animal-Borne Disease Seen Killing 2.7 Million People in Study

July 04, 2012

Animal-borne diseases are responsible for 2.5 billion cases of human illness and 2.7 million deaths a year, according to a study by the International Livestock Research Institute.

Gastrointestinal illnesses, mostly due to contaminated food, are the biggest killer, causing 2.33 billion sick cases and 1.5 million deaths, according to the study, which was funded by the U.K.’s Department for International Development.

Rising demand for livestock products is expected to increase the spread of human-animal infectious diseases, according to Delia Grace, a veterinary epidemiologist with the livestock institute who led the study. Researchers reviewed more than 1,000 studies and assessed the result of 56 animal-borne diseases, according to the report.

“From cyst-causing tapeworms to avian flu, zoonoses present a major threat to human and animal health,” Grace was cited as saying in an e-mailed statement, using a scientific name for diseases transmittable from animals to humans.

Leptospirosis, or swamp fever, was considered the second- most important disease in terms of impact of human health and livestock impact, followed by cysticercosis, also known as pork worm, based on the study.

India has the greatest disease burden from animal-borne illnesses in terms of deaths and affected lives, followed by Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and China, according to the study.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rudy Ruitenberg in Paris at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Claudia Carpenter at

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