As COVID-19 spreads across the globe, a common question is, can infectious diseases be connected to environmental change? Yes, indicates a study published today from the University of California, Davis’ One Health Institute.
Exploitation of wildlife by humans through hunting, trade, habitat degradation and urbanization facilitates close contact between wildlife and humans, which increases the risk of virus spillover, found a study published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Many of these same activities also drive wildlife population declines and the risk of extinction.
The study provides new evidence for assessing spillover risk in animal species and highlights how the processes that create wildlife population declines also enable the transmission of animal viruses to humans.
“Spillover of viruses from animals is a direct result of our actions involving wildlife and their habitat,” said lead author Christine Kreuder Johnson, project director of USAID PREDICT and director of the EpiCenter for Disease Dynamics at the One Health Institute, a program of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. “The consequence is they’re sharing their viruses with us. These actions simultaneously threaten species survival and increase the risk of spillover. In an unfortunate convergence of many factors, this brings about the kind of mess we’re in now.”
Read more at Phys.org