The climate is changing – more common with viruses from animals to humans

As the climate changes, viruses commonly found in animals can better infect humans. Researchers call for better monitoring systems.

The researchers behind the compilation, which is published in the journal Nature, concludes that when the average temperature rises in the world, many animal species will move to new environments. Then they bring with them such things as parasites, viruses and bacteria. When animal species that have not previously lived close to each other begin to do so, viruses can move between species in a way that would not happen without changes in climate and environment.

– This research is exactly right in time and with the pandemic preparedness that is going on globally. We must become better at detecting and preventing new outbreaks at an early stage. The researchers emphasize that the monitoring of viruses in wild animals is important, says Joacim Rocklöv, professor at the Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine at Umeå University.

He himself researches how the climate affects the spread of infectious diseases and thinks that the study is rigorous and gives a credible picture of the future.

New viruses in humans

In the study, the researchers have assumed that the average temperature will rise by two degrees globally. Using different models and assumptions, they have created a scenario for how almost 4,000 animal species will move geographically due to climate change by the year 2070. According to the models, new encounters between species will take place and give rise to situations where viruses are spread via animals. on to humans, so-called zoonoses.

The new interactions will take place all over the world, but especially in tropical parts of Africa and in Southeast Asia. In areas where animals and humans live close to each other, the risks of people being exposed to sources of infection also increase.

– The study shows that humans will probably meet to a greater extent in the places that are most favorable to live in, which increases the risk of the virus spreading between species and over to humans, says Joacim Rocklöv.

Bats are pointed out

Bats are singled out as an animal that will account for a large proportion of cases where viruses are transmitted from animals to humans. The explanation is, among other things, that bats live in large groups and that they can move quickly between areas. Bats in particular have long been known to transmit viruses to humans. A close relative of sars-cov-2 that causes covid-19 has, for example, been found in bats and one theory is that the virus has reached humans via just bats. Migratory birds and aquatic mammals are also highlighted as animals that can greatly affect virus transmission.

And Sweden will not go safe. We already know that patterns and spread of diseases involving ticks and mosquitoes, among others, are changing and may lead to new disease outbreaks. And Joacim Rocklöv thinks there is reason to be worried.

– West Nile virus is an example of a virus that is spread by mosquitoes that was first found in Africa. Now they have come as far north as Germany. In a recent study, we have shown that outbreaks are strongly due to climate variation and that the distribution area increases when it gets warmer, says Joacim Rocklöv.

Communities should arm

Gregory Albery, a researcher at Georgetown University and one of the study’s authors, also expressed great concern at a press conference:

– The movement of animals and the spread of viruses and diseases have already begun and will not be stopped even if we reach the climate goals. But we do not know exactly what will happen, it’s like shaking a snow globe. We must have effective monitoring systems with on-site testing and equip healthcare and communities for new disease outbreaks, he said.

The researchers behind the study are careful to point out that these are precisely possible scenarios and that it is not possible to know for sure what impact climate change may have on the spread of infection.

Facts: Zoonoser

Zoonoses are diseases or infections that can be spread naturally between animals and humans. They can be caused by various types of infectious agents such as viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites which are called zoonotic infectious agents.

The transmission of infectious agents between animals and humans can take place via: food, feed or water direct contact with infectious animals or human vectors, such as ticks, gnats or mosquitoes objects or environment contaminated with these infectious agents.

Zoonoses that occur to a certain extent in Sweden and that are monitored via control or monitoring programs are, for example, bird flu, salmonellosis and campylobacteriosis.

Source: The Swedish Veterinary Institute

Source: Nyteknik – Senaste nytt by

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