Caceres and Otte’s article, “Blame Apportioning and the Emergence of Zoonoses over the Last 25 Years” discusses how assigning blame for the emergence of zoonoses and infectious diseases to specific regions, such as Southeast Asia, negatively affects society, politics, culture, and the economy. Caceres and Otte credit the media for people’s perceptions of emerging and re-emerging zoonoses and the assigning of blame to certain regions, “The media, especially those using mass-reaching mechanisms, has reinforced the idea that these emerging diseases are geographically limited to poor, developing countries characterized by widespread unhygienic conditions, unregulated markets, poor governance, frail infrastructures and uneducated populaces” (Caceres). While reading this article and this quote the film Contagion came to mind. The film follows the emergence of a zoonotic disease outbreak that spreads from China to the United States. Spoiler alert, the final scene of the film identifies bats and pigs on a farm in rural China as the source of the disease outbreak and a woman who traveled to Hong Kong and shook the unwashed hand of the chef preparing the infected pig, as patient zero. The film’s ending reinforces Caceres and Otte’s point that the media tends to portray and identify poorer countries with unhygienic conditions and uneducated populaces as main the sources for zoonotic disease outbreaks. Caceres and Otte highlight the inaccuracy of these common assumptions by discussing the variety of factors that contribute to zoonotic disease emergence and spread, such as economic factors, social and cultural factors, human and animal demographical factors, environmental factors, and evolutionary factors. However, many people fail to consider these factors and participate in blame apportioning reinforced by the media.
While reading Caceres and Otte’s article and Morens and Fauci’s article, “Emerging Infectious Diseases: Threats to Human Health and Global Stability,” the article “Control and Prevention of Emerging Zoonoses” by Bruno Chomel, which I read in a public health class, came to mind. This article discusses the measures required to prevent and control zoonotic diseases. Chomel’s article highlights four main ideas: reasons for emergence of zoonotic diseases, recognition of new emerging zoonoses, advancements for diagnosis, and survelliance, and education. In his discussion of emerging zoonoses, Chomel states that humans play a large role in the spread of diseases. Zoonotic disease emergence is promoted by human demographics, behavior, economic development, land use and international travel. Building off the topic of reasons for disease propagation, Chomel moves on to discuss the importance of recognition in disease prevention and control. The article emphasizes the issue that in most cases of disease emergence, “identification follows recognition of a health problem in the human population” (Chomel). With the goal of identifying pathogens before they present as symptoms in the human body, Chomel suggests studying and distinguishing potential health problems in animals that could be linked to human disease. In addition to disease recognition, Chomel proposes diagnostic advancements at the local level as an important topic in zoonotic disease prevention. While discussing tools and technology, Chomel states the importance and need for laboratories and proper molecular biology tools. Chomel also conveys his anticipation for microchip kits that will soon be able to immediately diagnose organisms at the site of examination. In addition to these three issues, Chomel underlines education as an important aspect of zoonotic disease control and emphasizes the need for the extension of medical knowledge to people who observe the first cases of new animal or human zoonoses. Chomel’s emphasis on education and development of new detective technologies relate to Morens and Fauci’s point that, “The battle against emerging infectious diseases is a continual process; winning does not mean stamping out every last disease, but rather getting out ahead of the next one” (Morens). This includes processes, such as developing new influenza vaccines on an annual basis. When it comes to decreasing and eliminating the rate of infectious and zoonotic diseases, health care professionals policy makers and researchers should combine and consider Caceres and Otte, Morens and Fauci and Chomel’s main points. When working to reduce infectious diseases emergence and the fear associated with such illnesses, it is important to spread correct information and eliminate biases, improve detective technologies, and work to get ahead of the next disease outbreak.
Chomel, Bruno. “Control and Prevention of Emerging Zoonoses.” Journal of Veterinary Medical Education. (2003): 145-147.