Disease patterns and planetary health

Second Opinion


Sars and Moore's Ebola in now corona link with animals what we call zoonosis. It's more complicated than animals simply spreading viruses and pathogens to humans. This bread is often less direct and can involve intermediate hosts and behaviors. But as I've talked this week with disease ecology experts they have increasingly blamed humans for our destruction of biodiversity this then creates ripe conditions for pathogens to come into contact with humans building roads deforestation mining logging farming with heavy water use population growth exotic vacations and heavy hunting have all played a role in these emerging epidemics around the world. Densely packed populations increasingly live in close proximity to bats and rats and birds and pets. This creates new opportunities for interactions for things to move from one species to another so does our tendency to capture exotic animals and put them in cages and ship them around the world to be used as pets or sold in wet markets and eventually be consumed as food all these activities disperse viruses that have existed for eons in one species often in one location and then spread them globally. Dr Brian Bird is a leading veterinarian. Epidemiologist and the associate director of UC Davis is one health institute he has worked on the front lines of the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone and other epidemics around the world. He has thought a great deal about these emerging epidemics at it quite clear that land use change and changing the environment chopping forest to plant crops. Things things of that nature are one of the leading risk factors for spillover buyers spillover of viruses from one species to another is increasingly common the CDC estimates that three quarters of new or emerging diseases that infect humans originating animals. It's not just exotic diseases like Corona Ebola and h one n one look at how we've destroyed forests to build American suburbs. This development disrupts the ecosystems enforces deer and rats and other animals to live in more densely packed areas or to venture outside of their normal habitat. This means that insects like ticks can more easily passed between animals. And then the ticks spread the bacteria borelli A- Bergdorf Ri- and there is a huge increase in line disease. Dr Bird reminds us that these changes have been going on since the industrial revolution. But he says that. Our interactions with that risk must change. We have to start to recognize that what we're doing as humanity in these wild areas is detrimental or taking the system out of balance into viruses. That all the other wildlife live in that ECO system and a sense of balance. It is this balance that has been ignored over the longer term solutions will start with awareness and hopefully that will lead to reason to action and more careful

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