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Captive Lion Breeding Poses Health Risks to Tourists and Others, Says Study

This is an excerpt from an article published by SA People on 09 March, 2021.

joint scientific study by Blood Lions and World Animal Protection highlights how the captive lion breeding industry in South Africa poses real and serious health risks to thousands of tourists, industry workers and its communities.

“Five major diseases (dubbed The Sick 5 in our new campaign) have been identified that can inflict serious health issues for people”, says Dr Louise de Waal (Director of Blood Lions). “These diseases are associated with at least 63 potentially harmful pathogens linked with both wild and captive lions, as identified in our peer-reviewed paper.”

Underestimating the impact of such pathogens and the associated zoonotic diseases could lead to future epidemics with reductions in life expectancy, increased child and maternal death and serious socio-economic consequences.

What are the Sick 5?

The Sick 5 are Human Ehrlichiosis, Human Babesiosis, African Sleeping Sickness, Toxocariasis and Trichinosis.

The first two are tick-borne diseases, where the bacteria and parasite respectively are transmitted from animals to people by ticks. Toxocariasis and Trichinosis parasites are transmitted more directly to humans, the former for example by handling faeces contaminated soil and the latter has a direct animal-human transmission.

African Sleeping Sickness (or Trypanosomiasis) is caused by a parasite transmitted by the tsetse fly and is listed as a Neglected Tropical Disease by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Over the last century, this disease has caused several epidemics in Africa.

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