ZOONOTIC DISEASES USING ENVIRONMENTAL LAW TO REDUCE THE ODDS OF A FUTURE EPIDEMIC.pdf

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Nexis Uni ® Document: NOTE: ZOONOTIC DISEASES: USING ENVIRONMENTAL L… NOTE: ZOONOTIC DISEASES: USING ENVIRONMENTAL LAW TO REDUCE THE ODDS OF A FUTURE EPIDEMIC, 33 Va. Envtl. L.J. 153 2015 Reporter 33 Va. Envtl. L.J. 153 * Length: 9696 words Author: Rebecca Lipman * * J.D. Candidate, Harvard Law School, Class of 2015. The author would like to thank her husband Benjamin Feuer for his love and support of all her ambitions, and Professor Richard Lazarus and the Virginia Environmental Law Journal editorial team for their advice and support. Text [*153] I. INTRODUCTION SARS. AIDS. Ebola. These viruses have caused some of the most feared epidemics in modern history, and they all originated in animals. 1 Zoonotic diseases, 2 also known as "zoonoses," 3 are diseases that can be transmitted between humans and animals. Approximately seventy-five percent of current emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic, and approximately sixty percent of all known human pathogens originated [*154] in animals. 4 Despite the widespread awareness of such diseases, 5 we remain extremely vulnerable to many zoonoses. Almost twenty thousand people contracted the Ebola virus in 2014. 6 Some analyses predict that hundreds of thousands of people will be infected before the outbreak ends. 7 Previous zoonotic epidemics have had even more dire results: during the flu season of 1918-19, fifty million people died. 8 Little is known about the transmissibility and lethality of new viruses at the beginning of an outbreak, and there is always a chance that the latest outbreak will become "the next big one." 9 Our legal system can take steps to address this threat. This note proposes different ways that we can use environmental laws to reduce the likelihood of future zoonotic outbreaks. Part II provides a scientific background on zoonotic diseases. Part III explores what factors increase the frequency of zoonotic infections, in both animal and human populations. Part IV examines laws that currently address zoonotic diseases and how they focus on responding efficiently to existing outbreaks. Part V proposes new legal frameworks to help combat the spread of zoonotic diseases by emphasizing the prevention of future Copy Citation
outbreaks. Part VI concludes with recommendations on how different regulatory authorities in the United States can meet the risk posed by zoonotic diseases. II . WHAT ARE ZOONOTIC DISEASES? When a pathogen that has previously only existed in animals is transmitted to a human, the event is called a "spillover," 10 and the pathogen becomes a zoonotic disease. If the pathogen successfully adapts to a human host, becomes established in a local human [*155] population, and spreads, the disease has then "emerged." 11 Many zoonotic diseases that spill over hit dead ends and are unable to successfully emerge. For instance, a pathogen may infect humans inconsistently and require individuals to be exposed to a large amount of the pathogen before infection becomes likely.

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