Why climate change will increase virus transmission between species (therefore epidemics)

Climate change will contribute to making the world sicker than it is today. Due to global warming, animals will move around and meet more, risking the emergence of new pathologies.

Viral transmissions between animals, and towards humans, could explode in the near future (2070), according to projections by researchers made on more than 3,000 species of mammals. And this is due to global warming. In a study published in the journal Nature, scientists warn of the risk of a sicker world, due to the emergence of new pathologies, on the sidelines of being warmer. Explanations.

As with Covid-19, most likely born of an encounter that should not have taken place between two species, scientists are concerned that this will happen very regularly in the future. And for good reason: the natural habitat of animals evolves, warms up and pushes them to move to new places where other species are found. These encounters bring together bacteria and viruses, foretelling new epidemics to come.

10,000 families of viruses could reach humans

In terms of figures, the study adds that 10,000 families of viruses, which currently live in wild mammals, could reach humans in this way. The study points to one mammal in particular, which moves around a lot and carries many viruses: the bat.

These estimates do not take into account “failures” of transmission, which are more difficult to measure, says Jean-François Guégan, director of research at the Research Institute for Development (IRD) and the National Research Institute for agronomy, food and the environment (INRAE) with France Info. He specifies that these inter-species transmissions would have already started for 40 or 50 years.

Sources : Climate change increases cross-species viral transmission risk, Nature, 28 avril 2022.

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