Humans to blame for pandemic-THE HINDU-22-04-2020
The name given to diseases transmitted from animals to humans is “zoonoses”, based on the Greek words for “animal” and “sickness”. This figure climbs to 75% for “emerging” diseases such as Ebola, HIV, avian flu, Zika, or SARS, another type of coronavirus. “The emergence of zoonotic diseases is often associated with environmental changes or ecological disturbances, such as agricultural intensification and human settlement, or encroachments into forests and other habitats,” says UNEP report. “Changes in the environment are usually the result of human activities,” it adds.
Gwenael Vourc’h of INRAE, a French public research institute, also blames human activity for the crossover between species. “Given the growth of the human population and its ever more intense use of planetary resources, the destruction of more and more ecosystems multiplies contacts,” she says. Domesticated animals are often a “bridge” between pathogens from the wild and humans.
‘Unprecedented in human history’:
The only sure thing is that human activity facilitated the jump. “People, through their actions, create opportunities for the microbes to come closer to human populations. “The rate of global change in nature during the past 50 years is unprecedented in human history, and the most important direct driver of change in nature is land use change. Beyond the current outbreak of coronavirus, IPBES estimates that zoonoses kill some 700,000 people a year.
A study by American researchers published last week and completed before the new coronavirus outbreak identifies rodents, primates and bats as hosts of three-quarters of viruses transmitted to humans. Christine Johnson, of the University of California veterinary school, who led the study, blames the human urge to “alter the landscape”.