Scientists warn about the potential outbreaks of pandemics Throughout this century
We are only beginning to see the repercussions of our practices. Deforestation, urbanization, climate change, encroachment on wild habitats, have all come together to bring us what is only the start of an era of the pandemics.
“Pandemics as a whole are increasing in frequency. It’s not a random act of God. It’s caused by what we do to the environment.”
Peter Daszak, disease ecologist and President of Ecohealth Alliance.
The Coronavirus emerged from a man-eating a bat. Bats make up about half of the mammals in the most biodiverse regions. Not only are they valuable pollinators and pest-eaters, but they are also virus vessels.
Bats have a superhero-like immune system that allows them to become “reservoirs to many pathogens that do not impact them but can have a tremendous impact of us if they’re able to make the jump” -Thomas Gillespie, a disease ecologist at Emory University.
“Wherever we’re creating novel interfaces, this is a likely risk that we need to be seriously considering”
The jump is made easier as we continue to exploit the environment and cut down forests for our own profits.
That’s not it. The emergence of “wet-markets” could also be a reason behind the outbreaks of viruses.
“One of the key interfaces for these spillover events to occur are markets and the international trade of wildlife”, says Chris Walzer from the Wildlife Conservation Society’s global health program.
International trade in pets (reptiles, fish) is also a concern. The animals are rarely tested for pathogens that could sicken humans. The same is the case with large farms, packed with animals.
Besides these, close contact with and alteration of wildlife also contribute to the risk of infectious diseases.
“It just boggles my mind how, when we have so many diseases that emanate out of that unusual human-animal interface, that we just don’t shut it down”, says Anthony Fauci, director of American National Institute of Allergy and Infectious diseases.
Bans are not sustainable since they give room to the formation of underground markets. We should look towards other, more efficient methods, such as regulation and testing for pathogens.
Last, but not the least, in an individual capacity, we need to contribute to environmental and wildlife conservation. Because let’s face it, if we do not, we’ll be in a much worse place than we are in right now.