Zoonotic diseases

Modern intensive farming methods designed to keep the cost of meat as low as possible have led to the emergence of new zoonotic diseases - animal diseases that can be transmitted to humans such as BSE, bird flu and Escherichia coli (E. coli) O157.

Safe disposal of manure from large scale cattle, pig and poultry farms is a growing food safety problem in much of the world. The main sources of E. coli O157 are cattle and sheep, but an increasing number of cases of human infection are caused by contact with animal faeces or contamination of water supplies, rather than from food.  One way to take control is for large numbers of people to stop eating poultry, pigs and other animals and remove the superbugs’ breeding ground.


See our Nutrition News on food poisoning.



A high-profile team of researchers from different countries recently published an article on the number of people who have died or been hospitalised each year as a direct result of infection with a particular drug-resistant bacterial strain (a type of E.coli). In Europe, this superbug is responsible for 1,518 deaths and 67,236 days in hospital every year. In the UK, the biggest poultry meat consumer in Europe, the figures are 1,580 cases of blood poisoning, 280 deaths and 12,500 hospital days per year.