The Sharing of Urban Areas by Man and Animals
The interaction and close contact between humans and some animal species date from immemorial ages. Demographic evolution of human populations and the tendency for urban concentration have radically changed the type of relation and fruition by man of different animal species that have follow him up to urban environments. At the same time, there is an increase of the biological hazards and other dangers resulting from such interaction. In Portugal, there are few scientific publications related to the adaptation of animal species to the urban areas and, even less, concerning physical, mental or social impact in human health. Estimations of companion animal populations or synanthropic animal species are difficult to be obtained. Only through the commercialization of veterinary drugs is possible to have an approximation of the dimension of dog and cat populations. These data show, that in the last five years there was an increase in both populations size of 5.2% and 12.5%, respectively. There have also been efforts to calculate the population of pigeons in Lisbon urban area. Various social and economical indicators are presented and discussed suggesting a gradual awareness of these problems by feed and drug companies, dog and cat breed associations and council authorities. Lisbon Veterinary Faculty has been leading the research of animal diseases in urban areas. Over forty scientific and technical publications have been published addressing zoonotic diseases (leishmaniasis, toxoplasmosis, criptosporidiosis, equinococcosis, helmintiasis, salmonellosis), or mammary tumors and antibiotic resistance using dog and cat urban populations as models. From the analysis of the results and conclusions of such studies it is possible to verify that environmental alterations of natural habitats and consequent behavioural changes in individual and animal populations have increased the risk of physical and biological hazards for citizens. It is also stressed that there is a need for all private and public institutions to participate in the information and education of animal owners in order to reduce the physical and biological risks originated by companion animals and of citizens to respect and collaborate with public health authorities on promoting and maintaining a better urban environment.
Key wordsInteraction Man and Animals Urban areas Scientific Research Risk
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