As animals migrate to new habitats, they’ll bring new diseases with them, the research claims
According to Thursday’s study, at least 15,000 species-to-species new viral transmissions may occur over the next 50 year as global warming causes wild animals to move toward humans. Scientists warned these animals could transmit diseases such as Zika, Ebola or SARS to humans. Most at-risk are Africa and Asia.
Some believe the Covid-19 pandemic began in a lab, but many scientists think that it was humans who first caught the coronavirus. “wet market”In Wuhan, China. Such markets – where live animals and meat are sold alongside each other – have long been condemned as hotspots of animal-to-human viral transmission, but scientists are now warning that climate change could replicate the conditions of a wet market on a global scale.
The study, published in the ‘Nature’ journal on Thursday, predicts that a rise in global temperatures of even less than two degrees Celsius will shift the habitats of some wild animals closer to those of people, potentially introducing humans to tens of thousands of viruses currently restricted to the wild.
“The closest analogy is actually the risks we see in the wildlife trade,” said lead author Colin Carlson, a professor at Georgetown University Medical Center. “We worry about markets because bringing unhealthy animals together in unnatural combinations creates opportunities for this stepwise process of emergence — like how SARS jumped from bats to civets, then civets to people. But markets aren’t special anymore; in a changing climate, that kind of process will be the reality in nature just about everywhere.”
The majority of transmission will come from bats according to the study. They are known as reservoirs of virus, can fly for long distances and have a high rate of transmission. They are also known to be a reservoir of viruses and can fly long distances. “global hotspot of bat diversity,”Researchers warned that Southeast Asia would be an area of high risk for transmission. However, more than 3,000 species of mammal will likely migrate to new habitats, and densely-populated areas like Africa’s Sahel region, India and Indonesia, will also be at risk, the researchers wrote.
The assumptions of the study are that it will get hotter and animals will migrate according to predictions, as well that disease-carrying pathogens will infect humans.
“It’s unclear exactly how these new viruses might affect the species involved,”Gregory Albery was co-lead author. “but it’s likely that many of them will translate to new conservation risks and fuel the emergence of novel outbreaks in humans.”
Global warming can still be kept below 2 degree threshold. “worst-case scenario” in the Paris Agreement, future viral spillovers may happen anyway, Carlson’s team warned.
“When a Brazilian free-tailed bat makes it all the way to Appalachia, we should be invested in knowing what viruses are tagging along,” Carlson stated. “Trying to spot these host jumps in real-time is the only way we’ll be able to prevent this process from leading to more spillovers and more pandemics.”