Emerging Diseases from Animals (Chapter 8)


Is human disruption of natural systems putting our own health and well-being at risk?

Human activities disrupt ecological systems worldwide, increasing the likelihood that infectious disease will spread from animals to humans, as has already occurred with the Ebola virus and HIV/AIDS. Scientists estimate that more than 60 percent of the 400 new infectious diseases in humans that emerged in the past 70 years were of animal origin. And this threat is increasing as land-use changes bring animals and humans together, as livestock raising becomes intensified, and as the use of antibiotics in animals increases.

The authors contend that, despite rising attention to high-profile pandemics like Ebola, neither governments nor publics appreciate that such outbreaks are emblematic of a systemic, global problem. 


New strategies for dealing with [emerging animal-borne diseases] offer the possibility that ... humans once again can learn to live in balance with the natural ecology that supports us.”

Catherine C. Machalaba, Elizabeth H. Loh, Peter Daszak, and William B. Kareshin in "Emerging Diseases from Animals"


Catherine C. Machalaba presents her chapter at the State of the World book launch in Washington, D.C.

About Confronting Hidden 

Threats to Sustainability

We think we understand environmental damage: pollution, water scarcity, a warming world. But these problems are just the tip of the iceberg. Deeper issues include food insecurity, financial assets drained of value by environmental damage, and a rapid rise in diseases of animal origin. These and other problems are among the underreported consequences of an unsustainable global system.
In State of the World 2015, the flagship publication of the Worldwatch Institute, experts explore hidden threats to sustainability and how to address them. Eight key issues are addressed in depth, along with the central question of how we can develop resilience to these and other shocks. With the latest edition of State of the World, the authorities at Worldwatch bring to light challenges we can no longer afford to ignore.



Download information about this chapter!



More Information    

Explore Other Chapters

Press Releases & Tip Sheet


Author Bios