Thursday, June 4

More research on zoonotics, infectious diseases now

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INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM: Songan (left) officiating at the Second International Symposium on Zoonoses and Emerging Infectious Diseases at Unimas.

KOTA SAMARAHAN: The field of zoonotics and infectious diseases had developed rapidly in recent years, following several outbreaks such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Hendra and Nipah viruses and H5N1.

Pointing this out yesterday, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) vice chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Khairuddin Ab Hamid said this was because the awareness and fear of the impact of zoonoses and emerging infectious diseases (EID) on human population had triggered numerous researches on the particular field throughout the world. Dr Khairuddin said research on zoonoses and EID had been one of the priority research areas carried out by researchers in the Faculty of Resource Science and Technology and Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences of Unimas.

Speaking at the official opening of the Second International Symposium on Zoonoses and Emerging Infectious Diseases at Unimas here yesterday, he believed that the symposium would come out with some important findings that would be useful for all in terms of new scientific information, novel protocols or even potential cure for the diseases.

“With the emergence of many modern diseases or even epidemic diseases that started out as zoonotic diseases, it is imperative that we update our current knowledge on zoonotic diseases and enhance our understanding on the direct impact towards wildlife and human health,” he said.

Dr Khairuddin’s text of speech was read by Unimas deputy vice chancellor of research and innovation Prof Dr Peter Songan.

In his speech, Dr Khairuddin believed that this international symposium was an excellent platform for bridging knowledge gaps, sharing and exchanging ideas and research findings while fostering linkage and collaboration between researchers and institutions, which ultimately would be beneficial to the local communities.

Meanwhile, the organising chairman of the international symposium Prof Dr Mohd Tajuddin Abdullah said zoonotic diseases were becoming one of the serious problems in the world today, especially in poor and developing nations, threatening the lives of those directly in constant contacts with wildlife.

He pointed out that land use, deforestation, overpopulation and natural disasters were among the factors that influenced the mode of zoonotic diseases on humans, wild and domestic animals as well as the ecosystem.

“Rapid transportation or mass translocation of humans and animals into new areas, increased contact between wild animals and humans, changes in the environment and husbandry practices are among the causes of emerging and re-emerging of zoonotic diseases in the world,” he highlighted

He pointed out that zoonoses were zoonotic illness caused by pathogens that are passed between or shared by animals and humans.

“More than 200 diseases are known to be zoonotic including Avian Influenza, Rabies, Lyme Disease and the most recent deadly disease that struck the world — Swine Flu A (H1N1),” Dr Mohd Tajuddin underlined.

He said these diseases were primarily spread by bacteria, viruses, protozoa, fungi, worms or insects.