The Meeting Place

Will pets bring on the next pandemic?

Compiled by a team of international wildlife and veterinary experts, a new study has identified seven routes by which pandemics could occur and 161 options for reducing the risk.

It concludes that widespread changes to the way we interact with animals are needed. 

The COVID-19 pandemic, thought to originate in a wild animal, has shown the enormous damage that can be wrought by a novel human disease.

There have since been widespread calls for new regulations to control interactions with wild animals to prevent the emergence of another pandemic - such as one caused by a coronavirus like SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. 

The authors of the new report argue that well-meaning but simplistic actions such as complete bans on hunting and wildlife trade, ‘wet markets’ or consumption of wild animals may be unachievable and are not enough to prevent another pandemic.

Zoonotic diseases of epidemic potential can also transmit from farmed wildlife (such as civets) and domesticated animals (as exemplified by swine flu and avian flu), with greater risks occurring where humans, livestock and wildlife closely interact. 

Compiled by a team of 25 international experts, the study considered all major ways that diseases with high potential for human to human transmission can jump from animals to humans (termed zoonotic diseases). 

The authors say that dealing with such a complicated mix of potential sources of infection requires widespread changes to the ways humans and animals interact. 

“A lot of recent campaigns have focused on banning the trade of wild animals, and dealing with wild animal trade is really important yet it’s only one of many potential routes of infection. We should not assume the next pandemic will arise in the same way as COVID-19; we need to be acting on a wider scale to reduce the risk,” said Professor William Sutherland from the University of Cambridge.

Potential ways another human pandemic could arise include: wildlife farming, transport, trade and consumption; international or long distance trade of livestock; international trade of exotic animals for pets; increased human encroachment into wildlife habitats; antimicrobial resistance - especially in relation to intensive farming and pollution; and bioterrorism. 

Some of the ways to reduce the risk of another pandemic are relatively simple, such as encouraging smallholder farmers to keep chickens or ducks away from people. Others, like improving biosecurity and introducing adequate veterinary and hygiene standards for farmed animals across the world, would require significant financial investment on a global scale.

Are you worried we will suffer another pandemic in the not too distant future?


I think it is a given that we will have more pandemics in the future. In a way we have been rather lucky with this current SARS-CoV-2 in that it is not killing children. Imagine if we had a pandemic that did endanger children and the young to a significant degree....I think there would be no complacency, everyone would lockdown for good. We really do have to change the way we interact with animals and put an end to factory farming, wet markets, wildlife trading etc. Hopefully we will learn lessons from this current Covid crisis and make the necessary changes.

The COVID-19 virus has already been found in pet dogs although there is no evidence yet of pets transmitting it. There are more likely  to get it from humans. But the risk is there. 

The three most common protozoal diseases in cats and humans are cryptosporidiosis, giardiasis, and toxoplasmosis. Cryptosporidiosis can cause diarrhea, vomiting, fever, abdominal cramps, and dehydration in both cats and people. ... Giardiasis is caused by infection with the microscopic parasite Giardia.

Cats are highly susceptible to plague and are a common source of Yersinia pestis infection in humans (owners and veterinarians). ... Transmission to humans can also occur directly, by bites, scratches, and direct contact with infectious exudates or indirectly, as the pets may carry infected fleas to their owners. Humans can get salmonella, scabies, ringworm (want me to go on?) from cats. Cats are not clean.

Great I found something to agree with you on. All cats lick their anal areas constantly and then lick everything else including their owners if they let them. The cat up the road comes in my yard to attack and kill the visiting birds, I never see the head and have to bury the body, then goes home I presume to lick his owner and rub up against their leg, disgusting. Cat litter trays  is very dangeruos to pregnant women too, they should never handle cats while pregnant or handle the cat litter trays.

As long as man has been keeping animals in close proximity to them, their water sources and farming them there has always been disease. Look at how many outbreaks in abbatoirs there has been of covid19. But is the world waking up, not on your life when money is involved. Read this book


Cover image for Surviving the 21st century : humanity's ten great challenges and how we can overcome themSurviving the 21st century : humanity's ten great challenges and how we can overcome them


Cribb, Julian,

Isn't that a bit like,  I will not fly in a plane, drive a car, ride on a train or ride a bush bike because 'this' or 'that' will happen?

Most responsible cat owners these days keep their cats indoors, letting them have protected areas for both them and the native birds.

In door cats also have monthly treatment,  I sometimes wish we humans could have monthyly treatment to protect us against the 'gangs' that roam the night and break into homes and properties & steal cars.

When we were looking for our two indoor cats we were surprised to see how many peoples rear gardens were enclosed in cat netting.


Cat Walk practise by uppuN | Animated drawings, Animation ...

What is the bubonic plague? 

Plague is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, which is carried by fleas and transmitted between animals.

The bubonic plague - the most common form - is caused by the bite of an infected flea and can spread through contact with infectious bodily fluids or contaminated materials. 

Patients may show signs of fever and nausea and at an advanced stage may develop open sores filled with pus.  

It devastated Europe in the Middle Ages, most notably in the Black Death of the 1340s which killed a third or more of the continent's population. 

After the Black Death plague became a common phenomenon in Europe, with outbreaks recurring regularly until the 18th century. 

Plague is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, which is carried by fleas and transmitted between animals. The picture above is a 3D illustration of the bacterium +5 

Plague is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, which is carried by fleas and transmitted between animals. The picture above is a 3D illustration of the bacterium

When the Great Plague of 1665 hit, a fifth of people in London died, with victims shut in their homes and red crosses painted on the door. 

Bubonic plague has almost completely vanished from the rich world, with 90 per cent of all cases now found in Africa. 

It is now treatable with antibiotics, as long as they are administered quickly. 

Still, there have been a few non-fatal cases in the U.S., with an average of seven reported a year, according to disease control bosses. 

From 2010 to 2015 there were 3,248 cases reported worldwide, including 584 deaths, says the World Health Organisation. 

Some plague vaccines have been developed, but none are available to the general public. 

The WHO does not recommend vaccination except for high-risk groups such as health care workers.  

Without antibiotics, the bubonic strain can spread to the lungs – where it becomes the more virulent pneumonic form.  

Pneumonic plague, which can kill within

Sounds like it is a bacteria if you can treat it with anti-biotics. Why thousands of children die every year without clean water to drink and clean sanitation.