Zoonotic infections are in the limelight more than ever before. However, zoonotic infections, which are naturally transmitted between animals and humans, have existed as long as humans have been around. Humans are biologically part of the animal kingdom. This means that for infectious agents there is a continuum between animals and humans.
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Foredrag ved professor Thomas C. Mettenleiter.
Kommentarer ved Trygve Ottersen, områdedirektør for smittevern ved Folkehelseinstituttet og Lucy Robertson, professor ved Institutt for parakliniske fag ved NMBU - Norges miljø- og biovitenskapelige universitet.
More than 60% of human infections originate from animals, and more than 75% of newly emerging human infections are zoonoses. This is also true for COVID-19. The increasing contact between humans and animals can lead to local epidemics with possible pandemic potential. The human population, now 8 billion, are highly mobile, often traveling long distances in a very short time. As human bodies form an ideal host population for infectious agents, zoonoses travel faster around the world than before.
Even before COVID-19, the human burden of disease by zoonoses amounted to nearly 2 million fatalities and 2.4 billion morbidities annually worldwide. Thus, zoonotic infections are a major topic in global health.
The ‘One Health’ approach considers the interdependence between humans, animals, and the environment (ecosystems). ‘One Health’ aims to reduce the risk of future pandemics. It is based on an interdisciplinary cooperation, communication, coordination and capacity building. Strictly speaking, ‘One Health’ is not only a concept, but a way of living
Thomas C. Mettenleiter studied biology from 1977 to 1982 and earned his doctoral degree in genetics in 1985 at the Eberhard Karl University of Tübingen for his research work on pseudorabies virus conducted at the Federal Research Centre for Virus Diseases of Animals (BFAV) in Tübingen. With a research fellowship granted by the German Research Foundation (DFG) he went for a research stay with Tamar Ben-Porat and Albert Kaplan at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, USA, from 1986 to 1987. After returning to BFAV, he obtained his post-doctoral habilitation in virology at the University of Tübingen in 1990. From 1994 to 2019 he chaired the Institute of Molecular Virology and Cell Biology at the Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut, Federal Research Institute for Animal Health (FLI), on the island of Riems. He has been leading the FLI since 1996, in 1997 he was appointed President of the FLI. His main field of research is virus infections of farm animals, in particular herpesviruses. In addition to studies on the basic processes of virus-host interactions, he is involved in the development of novel vaccines based on molecular biological techniques. He is a member of several international committees and working groups including the founding co-chair of the „One Health High Level Expert Panel” jointly initiated by WHO, OIE, FAO, and UNEP. He is a member of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, the Academy of Sciences in Hamburg, the Polish Academy of Sciences, and the Royal Belgian Academy of Medicine. He has been awarded honorary doctorates from the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover and from the Justus-Liebig-University Gießen, an associate professorship from the University of Greifswald and an honorary professorship from the University of Rostock. He is also a recipient of the Robert von Ostertag Medal of the German Federal Chamber of Veterinarians. He is senior editor of the scientific journal „Advances in Virus Research“.
Trygve Ottersen (MD, PhD) is executive director at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, where he is heading the division of Infection Control. He is also associate professor at the University of Oslo. His research concentrates on health systems, health policy, health financing, priority setting, global health security, development assistance, and science advice.
Lucy Robertson leads the parasitology team at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU-VET). She has a long-term interest in zoonotic parasites and their transmission between both domestic and wild animals and people, particularly via environmental vehicles; zoonotic parasites remain one of the focus research topics of the parasitology team at NMBU-VET. Lucy is currently a member of the WHO Foodborne Disease Burden Epidemiology Reference Group, where one of her major goals is to ensure that parasites, the neglected pathogens, are not overlooked.