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Climate change could trigger future epidemics, study finds

Highlighting another hidden and far-reaching cost of the climate crisis, researchers warn that global warming could fuel future pandemics by dramatically increasing the risk of virus transmission from animals to humans.


  • 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 wrote in the journal Nature.
  • The researchers looked at how climate change could alter the geographic ranges of about 3,100 mammal species between now and 2070, and how that might affect virus transmission between species.
  • Even under the most optimistic climate predictions (warming below 2°C), researchers project that climate change will trigger at least 15,000 new cases of species-crossing viruses for the first time by 2070.
  • According to the researchers, these “spillover” events will be primarily driven by bats – which can travel great distances, are capable of carrying pathogens capable of infecting humans and are widely believed to be the primary source of Covid-19. 19 – and will be concentrated in densely populated areas of Asia and Africa.
  • Although it is unclear how the new viruses will affect the species involved, Dr. Gregory Albury, one of the study’s lead authors and a disease ecologist at Georgetown University, said it is “likely” that many of them will “fuel the urgency of new epidemics” in humans.
  • As temperatures rise as a result of human activity, this process is already well underway, with researchers warning that efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions may not be enough to prevent virus transmission between species.

the tangent

Viruses that flow from species to species can have dramatic effects on wildlife and conservation, researchers warn. They said climate change could lead to encounters for the first time with about 3,700 different species of 13 species that can spread the Ebola virus. Beyond humans, the Ebola virus has had a devastating impact on primate populations, including gorillas, which are threatened with extinction. The researchers said it would be useful to study other animals in future work, especially amphibians — which are already battling a fungal plague that has wiped out at least 90 species and marine mammals. Understanding the effects of climate change on birds and the pathogens they carry will also be important, the researchers said. Apart from mammals, the viral ecosystem of birds is the best documented and is where we find the most viruses capable of infecting humans.

significant number

10,000. According to researchers, this is the number of viruses capable of infecting humans. Most of them propagate “discreetly” among wild mammals. Incidents of contamination are generally rare, although they have become more frequent due to problems with habitat destruction, wildlife trade, and industrialized agriculture, which bring animals into close contact with humans.

Article translated from Forbes US – Author: Robert Hart

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