Study finds climate change could lead to epidemics in the future

Global warming could fuel future epidemics by dramatically increasing the risk of viruses passing from animals to humans warned Researchers on Thursday, to highlight another hidden and far-reaching cost of the climate crisis.

Highlights

  • Writing in the journal Nature, researchers write that as the planet warms, many animals will be forced to find new places to live, taking with them the parasites and pathogens they carry.
  • The researchers studied how climate change could alter the geographic range of about 3,100 species of mammals between now and 2070 and how this might affect the transmission of the virus between species.
  • Even under the most optimistic climate projections (a temperature rise of less than 2 degrees Celsius), researchers expect climate change to lead to at least 15,000 new cases of the trans-species virus for the first time by 2070.
  • According to the researchers, these “indirect” events will be primarily driven by bats – which can travel long distances, are able to carry pathogens capable of infecting humans, and are widely believed to be the primary source of Covid-19. They are concentrated in densely populated areas of Asia and Africa.
  • While it’s unclear precisely how the new viruses will affect the species in question, Dr Gregory Albury, one of the study’s lead authors and a disease ecologist at Georgetown University, said it was “likely” that many of them “will fuel the urgency of new epidemics in humans.” “.
  • That human activity is causing warming, and this process may already be underway, the researchers warned, adding that efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions may not be enough to prevent increased transmission of the virus between species.
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the shadow

The researchers warned that viruses transmitted from species to species could also have a significant impact on wildlife and its conservation. They said nearly 3,700 different animals could first encounter the 13 species likely to spread the Ebola virus due to climate change. Other than humans, the Ebola virus has had devastating effects on primate groups, including the endangered gorilla. The researchers said it would be useful to study other animals in future work, particularly amphibians — which are already struggling with an animal. fungal plague That wiped out at least 90 species – and marine mammals. It will also be important to understand the impact of climate change on birds and the pathogens they carry, the researchers said. Besides mammals, the viral ecosystem of birds is the best documented and it is there that we find most viruses capable of transmitting to humans.

important name

10,000. This is the number of viruses capable of infecting humans, according to researchers. The vast majority of them spread “discreetly” among land mammals. Cases of pollution are generally rare, although they are becoming more frequent due to issues such as habitat destruction, wildlife trade and industrial agriculture, which bring animals into close contact with humans.

Article translated from the American magazine Forbes – Author: Robert Hart

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