90% Of Infectious Diseases Originate In Other Countries And Spread To India, Research Shows

Aadhya Khatri - Mar 24, 2020


90% Of Infectious Diseases Originate In Other Countries And Spread To India, Research Shows

India is nowhere to be found on the list of country of origin of infectious diseases. The country's culture and belief might be the answer

Infectious diseases have been the nightmare of humanity for thousands of years. Even today, with advanced medicine and technology, humans are somewhat powerless against the destruction of viruses.

In the 14th century, Europe experienced one of history’s worst diseases with 2000 million lives lost as a result of the Bubonic plague. 200 years later, small pox claimed the lives of 9 out of 10 Native Americans. In the 1800s, cholera k.i.l.l.e.d millions of people around the globe.

Out fight against infectious diseases appears like a tug-of-war game in the sense that sometimes the viruses win over humans and other time when our doctors and scientists manage to fight back. Viruses evolve to better infect us and we do too to ward off them.

infectious diseases major pandemics
List of major pandemics in the last century

It is hard not to realize that these above diseases are zoonotic, meaning they originate from animals and then infect humans.

Research has shown that 60.3% of plagues are caused by zoonotic viruses and 71.8% of them are from viruses originally found on wild animals.

Another pattern is that most of these disease originate from Africa or Asia.

infectious diseases country of origin
Plagues and their country of origin

One explanation is that the temperature of these regions are high, so they stand a higher chance of a pandemic outbreak than regions with a lower temperature.

Here is a list of possible causes:

  • A high population density
  • Urbanization forcing humans to come in contact with wild animals.
  • Richness in wildlife and insects, which can be the vectors of viruses.
  • A large number of primates in tropical regions. Since primates are closely related to humans, their diseases can quickly transfer to us.
  • More animals re domesticated in this region.

These are the environmental factors, here are some related to culture and economy:

  • Live animals market where several species are found in one, and often unhygienic, place.
  • High demand of exotic meat when income increases.
  • The hunt of wild animals.
  • Illegal wildlife trade for Chinese traditional medicine.

If you look at the list of nations of origin of pandemics, you will see that India is not on the list while despite qualifying for all of these above factors.

infectious diseases india harmony with nature
The Indian culture emphasizes living in harmony with nature and encourages a non-violence approach to life

India has it all. A large population which densely packed in big cities, biological diversity, and unhygienic conditions, much like China. So this should put the country close to China, if not higher than it on the list of possible country of origin for infectious diseases. So why India is nowhere to be found?

It is true that India does face challenges regarding hygiene, public health infrastructure, and water cleanness, some of its cultural factors help in minimizing the risk.

One of the prime examples is the diets. Many Indians control their consumption of meat or are vegetarians, so there is less of ca chance for viruses on animals to infect humans.

Infectious diseases meat consumption
India has a low consumption of meat in comparison with some other countries

While India has seen an improvement in income in the last few years, the meat consumption is still lower than those of comparable countries.

Indian diets with a high percentage of plant-based food has helped the country avoid lots of plagues caused by viruses living on animals bodies. Those who have evolve to infect plants can hardly cause the same destruction on humans.

The Indian culture emphasizes living in harmony with nature and encourages a non-violence approach to life. That might be the main reason why the country is spared when it comes to countries that have seen the outbreaks of infectious diseases.

>>> 12YO Builds Lego Sanitiser Robot To Spread Hygiene Message

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