A panzootic (from Greek παν pan all + ζόιον zoion animal) is an epizootic (an outbreak of an infectious disease of animals) that spreads across a large region (for example a continent), or even worldwide. The equivalent in human populations is called a pandemic.
A panzootic can start when three conditions have been met:
- the emergence of a disease new to the population.
- the agent infects a species and causes serious illness.
- the agent spreads easily and sustainably among animals.
A disease or condition is not a panzootic merely because it is widespread or kills a large number of animals; it must also be infectious. For example cancer is responsible for a large number of deaths but is not considered a panzootic because the disease is, generally speaking, not infectious.
Avian flu and zoonotic epidemiology
In February 2004, avian influenza virus was detected in birds in Vietnam, increasing fears of the emergence of new variant strains. It is feared that if the avian influenza virus combines with a human influenza virus (in a bird or a human), the new subtype created could be both highly contagious and highly lethal.
In October 2005, cases of the avian flu (the deadly strain H5N1) were identified in Turkey. EU Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou said: "We have received now confirmation that the virus found in Turkey is an avian flu H5N1 virus. There is a direct relationship with viruses found in Russia, Mongolia and China." Cases of bird flu were also identified shortly thereafter in Romania, and then Greece. Possible cases of the virus have also been found in Croatia, Bulgaria and in the United Kingdom. However, by the end of October only 67 people had died as a result of H5N1 which was atypical of previous influenza pandemics.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC)
- Influenza pandemic
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