Spillover Diseases: Covid 19 and other Zoonoses. With Jonna Mazet and Aysha Akhtar

How does animal exploitation increase the emergence of new diseases?

With the world fighting a vicious new pandemic, Ian asks a front-line physician, an epidemiologist, a public health expert and activists about how new diseases spill over from other animals, and how factory farming and the wildlife trade raise our vulnerability.

Play or download (42MB MP3 30min) (via iTunes)


Zoonoses and Vegan Activism

You’ve probably heard animal activists linking the Covid-19 pandemic to human treatment of animals well before you listened to my show – part of the reason for doing this show was to give people the information to talk about the link without drifting into hyperbole.

For example, “Earthling” Ed Winters famously got a roasting in the UK’s tabloid press for a viral Facebook post in which he blamed half a dozen new diseases on meat-eating. From what I’ve learnt doing the show, it was his categorical certainty that’s wrong rather than his general point (and, arguably, tone). I thought his later video on the subject was more nuanced.

Has it Been Three Years?

It took me almost a year to close VegHist after transmitting the final episode, and then I got distracted by UK politics. (Which, in fairness, is very distracting.)

My next goal for The Vegan Option is to do some short videos based on the history series. Of course, as someone who set out to make a series of 10 x 15 minutes but made a ten hour epic instead, I’m not very good at “short”. (I feel a personal sense of triumph that I didn’t have to edit this episode down to the half-hour broadcast slot.)


Cheng, Vincent C. C., Susanna K. P. Lau, Patrick C. Y. Woo, and Kwok Yung Yuen. 2007. “Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus as an Agent of Emerging and Reemerging Infection.” Clinical Microbiology Reviews 20 (4): 660–94. https://doi.org/10.1128/CMR.00023-07.
CohenJan. 26, Jon, 2020, and 11:25 Pm. 2020. “Wuhan Seafood Market May Not Be Source of Novel Virus Spreading Globally.” Science | AAAS. January 26, 2020. https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/01/wuhan-seafood-market-may-not-be-source-novel-virus-spreading-globally.
Johnson, Christine K., Peta L. Hitchens, Pranav S. Pandit, Julie Rushmore, Tierra Smiley Evans, Cristin C. W. Young, and Megan M. Doyle. 2020. “Global Shifts in Mammalian Population Trends Reveal Key Predictors of Virus Spillover Risk.” Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 287 (1924): 20192736. https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2019.2736.
Karesh, William B., Andy Dobson, James O. Lloyd-Smith, Juan Lubroth, Matthew A. Dixon, Malcolm Bennett, Stephen Aldrich, et al. 2012. “Ecology of Zoonoses: Natural and Unnatural Histories.” The Lancet 380 (9857): 1936–45. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(12)61678-X.
Li, Hongying, Emma Mendelsohn, Chen Zong, Wei Zhang, Emily Hagan, Ning Wang, Shiyue Li, et al. 2019. “Human-Animal Interactions and Bat Coronavirus Spillover Potential among Rural Residents in Southern China.” Biosafety and Health 1 (2): 84–90. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bsheal.2019.10.004.
“Zoonotic Diseases | One Health | CDC.” 2020. February 19, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/onehealth/basics/zoonotic-diseases.html.


Theme by Robb Masters. The featured image is CC-BY-SA Scientific Animations, as it is based on their SARS-Cov-2 virus image, combined with a circle of animal kingdom icons for which I’d be happy to credit the original author, if I knew who they were.

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About Ian McD

I'm a British new media person with a passion for radio, and interested in the kind of stories best told when we see humans as part of the world of animal minds. I blogged about why I'm producing The Vegan Option.

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