A global pandemic is the best time to ponder where we all went wrong together. Human impact on animal populations worldwide, according to research, directly contributes to the spread of zoonotic disease.
Research has found that our exploitation of the natural world – through poaching and trade, habitat degradation and unconscious urbanization – alters mammal populations and causes an increase in infectious animal diseases that can infect humans. It’s all about proximity, and as people continue to attack the natural world, increased contact with wildlife has inevitably increased the risk of spreading the virus.
“As the habitat decreases, wildlife comes into closer contact with humans,” epidemiologist Christine Johnson of the University of California Davis told Newsweek. Wildlife is also changing their distribution to accommodate anthropogenic activities and changes in the natural landscape. ”
He continued as follows:
“This accelerated the emergence of disease from wildlife and put us at risk of the pandemic. This is a reality that the world now understands very well. With each passing century, infectious diseases from wildlife are erupting, and new results show that mammals are a big part of the problem. In data published on wild and domestic mammals until 2013 when compared to viruses that can infect humans, called zoonotic viruses, the authors show which interactions put us at the most risk.
The three groups of animals at greatest risk of spreading virus
Related article: What Are Zoonotic Diseases (Zoonoses), How Do They Transmit From Animals to Humans?
There were three groups of animals at greatest risk of spreading virus. Not surprisingly, they found that pets, primates, bats, and rats carry the most zoonotic virus – about 75%.
However, even struggling species threatened by habitat loss, over-exploitation, or other reasons are estimated to harbor twice as many zoonotic viruses than other species.
In short, when we consciously or unconsciously damage their habitats, we open the way for new viruses that may have an epidemic potential. (We’ve already seriously damaged 75 percent of the world’s land and 40 percent of the oceans) And many of us underestimate the realization of this event and the major problems that will arise if it does.
“ While we shed light on known zoonotic virus models during this study, we suspect that pathogen spread is often undetected and only a fraction of the virus events that can be detected later extend into outbreaks. ”
According to the IUCN * Red List, a quarter of the world’s non-domestic mammal species are under threat as of 2019. Deforestation is placing increasing pressure, especially on wild mammals struggling to adapt to dwindling habitats. And as the more encroachments on their territory are, wild animals are forced to make more contact with humans, increasing the risk of another outbreak.
Although urbanization and human activities have severely reduced the diversity of animals on earth, some species have evolved too much and these species are often well adapted to human behavior, such as mice.
Johnson told AFP that the landscape has changed with unconscious urbanization, animal husbandry and the transformation of land to grow crops, and the resulting deforestation, increasing the frequency and intensity of contact between humans and wildlife, creating excellent conditions for virus spread.
“We really have to pay attention to how we interact with wildlife and activities that bring people and wildlife together”.