Shiela R. Castillo, a vegan climate advocate and futurist

Zeroing in on Zoonosis; preventing the next pandemic

There have been numerous issues affecting the Earth’s sustainability. Many of these problems have been caused by our lack of respect to Mother Earth. Having caused these problems, we can be part of the solutions. This pilot episode of “SustainabiliTALKS” with Shiela R. Castillo (a vegan climate advocate and futurist) at discusses what zoonosis is and how we can prevent future pandemics from happening.

In a cattle farm in Alfonso, Cavite, a province near the Philippine capital Metro Manila, Castillo discusses zoonosis, or zoonotic diseases, that originate from animals and jump to humans.

She explains the kinds of zoonotic diseases, such as the ongoing African Swine Flu and Covid-19 pandemic, as well as MERS and SARS.

Castillo also discusses the susceptibility of certain groups of humans to zoonotic diseases, such as those with underlying diseases or comorbidities.

Castillo then enumerates the five ways by which zoonotic diseases are transmitted to humans: Through indirect contact and direct contact; via vectors such as ticks, fleas, mosquitoes and other parasitic insects; through the food we eat (such as the origin of Covid-19), and; via the water we drink and use in food preparation.

Today’s human race now has first-hand experience of how it is like to live under the confining and deadly shadow of a pandemic. For over a year now, the pandemic has killed millions worldwide, and has had a lasting impact in all aspects of society and socioeconomy. By all means, Covid-19 has completely changed the way we live.

By no means, however, will Covid-19 be our first and last pandemic, if we keep doing the same things, and keep behaving the same way, which caused the pandemic in the first place.

Castillo reiterates the behavioral changes we can adopt in order to stop the spread of zoonotic diseases, such as frequent handwashing and disinfection of all frequently touched surfaces, and physical distancing. But that’s just scratching the surface.

Castillo points out that the long-lasting solution lies in changing the system altogether: By eliminating contact with animals, especially those that have been held in captivity and packed into congested spaces, such as poultry farms, piggeries, and other livestock farms; by leaving our remaining forests untouched and regenerating those that have been destroyed by human encroachment, thereby keeping potentially deadly viruses confined in these forested areas, and finally; by rethinking how we source our food, and ultimately adopting a dietary lifestyle that avoids consuming animals (which are the sources of zoonotic diseases) altogether.

Castillo concludes that, only if we make these radical changes together, then avoiding the next pandemics will become possible.