Human behavior strategies to mitigate zoonotic spillover risk

EcoHealth Alliance
Published: 19 October 2022
Last edited: 19 October 2022
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Human-animal contact has been implicated as a primary driver for the emergence of several high-impact zoonotic diseases. However, existing surveillance and risk mitigation measures have a limited focus on human behaviors, and the links between animal contact behaviors and zoonotic spillover risk are poorly understood. This leaves many spillover events insufficiently detected or characterized and presents a challenge in developing risk mitigation strategies for preventing pandemics. Multiple-year research in Southern China used qualitative and quantitative methods and integrated behavioral and biological data. One finding was that some communities live proximal to wild animal populations but have low knowledge and perceived risk regarding disease emergence from animal–human interactions. The research has helped characterize at-risk human-animal contacts, identify determinants of at-risk behaviors, and develop evidence- and context-based behavioral change strategies for risk mitigation among local communities.


East Asia
Scale of implementation
Buildings and facilities
Urban ecosystem and build environment
Health and human wellbeing
One Health
Science and research
Species Conservation and One Health Interventions
Risk communication, community engagement and behaviour change
Risk assessment
One Health
Neglected tropical diseases, emerging infectious diseases, non-communicable diseases, zoonoses, antimicrobial resistance
Ecosystem loss


People's Republic of China


These studies showcase the application of different behavioral research methods in developing zoonotic risk mitigation strategies. The qualitative and quantitative research integrating behavior and serology surveys characterized the relationship between zoonotic risk and human behavior, providing serological evidence of zoonotic spillover events and highlighting the associations between human-animal contact behaviors and zoonotic spillover risk. Using behavioral theoretical frameworks, the targeted behavioral surveys and assessment translated evidence into risk mitigation measures and practices tailored to different populations. Although further studies are ongoing to assess the effectiveness of identified risk-mitigation measures, the current results demonstrate the value of human behavior research at human-animal interfaces in understanding and addressing the driving factors of zoonotic spillover and can provide a reference in future studies to assess the efficacy of interventions.

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Hongying Li EcoHealth Alliance