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AGRICULTURE-ASSOCIATED DISEASES 105


BOX 1 Agriculture-Associated Diseases


Zoonoses and emerging infec- tious disease. At least 61 percent of all human pathogens are zoonotic (transmissible between animals and man), and zoonoses make up 75 percent of emerging infectious diseases. A new disease emerges every four months; many are trivial, but HIV, SARS, and avian influenza illustrate the huge potential impacts. Zoonoses and zoonotic diseases recently emerged from animals are responsible for 8 percent of the total disease bur- den in low-income countries.


Food-associated disease. Diarrhea is one of the top three infectious diseases in most poor countries, killing an estimated 1.4 million children each year. Between 33 and 90 percent of diarrhea is attributed to food, and animal source food is the most risky. More than 90 percent of food sickness is caused by biologi- cal pathogens. Toxins and chemi- cal hazards associated with food are also important health threats, and in many cases can be prevented only by farm-level intervention. Food- borne disease is responsible for at least 4 percent of the disease burden in low- income countries.


Water-associated disease. These include diseases spread by con- taminated irrigation water—such as cholera, cryptosporidiosis, and chemical intoxication—and those that breed within irrigation and water storage systems, such as schis- tosomiasis and malaria. Malaria alone kills 1.1 million people annu- ally. For most diseases, water is only one contributing factor. Around 6 percent of the disease burden in least-developed countries is attributed to water-associated disease.


Source: Grace and Jones 2011.


Occupational disease and drug resistance. People working in agri- food systems are directly exposed to a range of biological, chemi- cal, and physical hazards. The use of antibiotics in farm animals is known to contribute to the crisis of drug resistant bacteria in human medicine, although there is debate about its importance and the best way of tackling it. The contribution to disease burden of this category has not been comprehensively assessed; it appears to be an order of magnitude less than the other disease categories.


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