The commissioning of wild places in fields and cities has created more opportunities for animals to transmit diseases to humans, scientists have warned.
One study suggests that our change of natural landscape gives rise to many wild animals, but the species is more likely to succumb to diseases.
This work adds to the increasing evidence that exploitation of nature’s fuel epidemic.
Scientists estimate that three out of every four newly emerging infectious diseases come from animals.
The study shows that, worldwide, we have shaped the landscape in this way, with preferred species that are more likely to carry infectious diseases.
And when we convert natural habitats into farms, pastures and urban locations, we inadvertently increase the likelihood of pathogens crossing from animals to humans.
“Our findings suggest that animals that live in more human-enhanced environments have infectious diseases that can make people sick,” said Rory Gibb of University College London (UCL).
How can landscape modify disease?
The transformation of forests, grasslands and deserts into cities, suburbs and farmland has pushed many wild animals towards extinction.
Small animals that can survive in most environments, such as rats and pigeons, thrive at the expense of long-lived animals such as rhinos that have special needs.
Some rodents, for example, carry a series of viruses that thrive in urban locations, where other species have been lost.
The new evidence comes from an analysis of a dataset of 184 studies involving approximately 7,000 animal species, 376 of which are known to carry pathogens shared with humans.
What can we do to prevent spillover incidents?
What scientists call a spillover involves a number of factors – when a pathogen crosses from an animal to humans, causing an outbreak of the disease, which can become an epidemic.
For example, we know that close contact with wild animals through hunting, trade or habitat loss puts the world at risk of outbreaks of new diseases.
Coronavirus is believed to have originated in bats along with other wild animals, which play a role in the transmission of humans. There are strong signs of a wildlife source and a link to trade.
Wild animals at various times in danger of extinction due to human exploitation have been found as viruses that can cause human disease as listed species for other reasons. The same is true for threatened species due to habitat loss.
- Exploitation of nature ‘outbreak of new diseases’
New studies published in the journal Nature show that animals that live in environments shaped by humans carry more pathogens than ancient habitats.
And it exposes widespread public misconceptions that wild nature, such as untamed forests, is the biggest source of disease crossover.
In fact, the greatest danger arises where natural areas have been cropped, converted into pastures, cities and suburbs.
UCL’s pro Kate Jones said the findings point to strategies that could help reduce the risk of future public health hazards.
“As agriculture and urban land are predicted to continue to expand in the coming decades, we should strengthen the provision of disease surveillance and health care in areas that are undergoing much land unrest, as they have There are likely to be animals that can be harmful pathogens, ”she said.
Why taking mice and pigeons?
This study is based on previous research showing how the modification of land for farming and construction of cities favors a single species.
Animals such as mice and pigeons are taking more than less common people, who can only survive in certain habitats.
When humans modify habitats, more specialized species are constantly lost and replaced by species that are found everywhere, such as pigeons in cities and rats in the farm.
These are visible to the survivors who host the most diseases.
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