The next source of coronaviruses could be the world’s largest rainforest

The next pandemic could come from the Amazon rainforest itself, warns Brazilian environmentalist David Lapola, who says human habitat invasion – the most likely cause of the COVID-19 epidemic – is growing in this area due to aggressive deforestation.

Researchers say that urbanization of once wild areas contributes to the emergence of zoonotic diseases – diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans.

These include the new coronavirus, which researchers believe appeared in bats before spreading to humans in the Chinese province of Hubei, probably through another species.

Lapola, who studies the impact of human activity on future rainforest ecosystems, says the same processes can be seen in the Amazon rainforest.

“Amazon is a huge reservoir of viruses. It would be preferable not to try our luck “, the ecologist declared for AFP, he writes Science Alert.

The world’s largest rainforest is disappearing at an alarming rate.

Last year, during President Jair Bolsonaro’s first year in office, deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest rose by 85 percent to more than 10,000 km2 – close to the size of the Lebanese Republic.

The trend is present this year as well. From January to April, more than 1,200 km2 were cleared, setting a new record for the first four months of the year, according to data from Brazil’s National Space Research Institute (INPE).

This is bad news, not only for the planet, but also for human health, says Lapola. “When you create an ecological imbalance – that’s when a virus can pass” from animals to humans, he added.

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