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Disease transmission from nature and environment

Humans and animals can be infected from the environment. Bacteria, virus and parasites may be transmitted by insect, water, soil and plants and many disease causing agents are zoonotic. SVA aim to reduce the biosecurity risk when biowaste such as manure, sewage sludge and food scrapes are recycled. We also need better understanding of the presence, spread and persistence of disease agents in the environment and how this is influenced from environmental and climate changes. 


Reindeer are sensitive to changes in climate and environment. Photo: Ann Albihn/SVA

Knowledge about the geographical abundance of different species is central since insects and ticks may act as vectors and transmit disease agents between species and individuals. Small rodents, birds and other animals may act as reservoirs for disease agents. Infections may also occur directly to grassing animals or humans present in the nature or by harvested feed- and foodstuff. Infections from water may increase after flooding events. Climate change effects ecosystems, animals as well as water and therefore also the risk for disease transmission. Ongoing projects focus e.g. on the presence and spread of vectors and reservoir animals, the consequences on animal health in the north, diagnostics of “climate sensitive diseases” as well as climate change effects on feedstuff and mycotoxins.

Disease prevention and control are central issue for SVA. Suitable handling and treatment of biowaste to be recycled will reduce the biosecurity risk. The efficiency on the survival of diseases agents in the end product from different treatment processes is evaluated as well as the persistence of disease agents in soil and water. Projects are performed in the laboratory, as full-scale outdoor studies or by calculating and validating risks. Composting, anaerobic digestion, urea- or lime treatment are examples of processes of interest.

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