Protecting Wildlife Habitats Could Stop the Next Pandemic

While we are still struggling with Covid pandemicsome scientists believe that there is a way that we can prevent the next one and help our environment.

In a study published November 16 in the journal magazine Nature, Researchers at Cornell University found that creating more habitat for wildlife could help prevent the spread of deadly diseases. More specifically, it would limit the spread of pathogens, which occurs when a disease originates in one animal and spreads to another.

Pervasive is the number of the world’s deadliest and most notorious diseases that have emerged such as HIV/AIDS, COVID-19, Ebola, avian flu and mad cow. The idea is that if we allow animals to peacefully exist and thrive in their natural habitat, that will limit the chances of spreading species-specific diseases to humans.

“Right now, the world is focused on how we can prevent the next pandemic,” said Raina Plowright, a public health and ecology researcher at Cornell and lead author of the study. know. said in a statement. “Unfortunately, nature conservation or restoration is rarely part of the discussion. We hope that this article will bring prevention and nature-based solutions to the forefront of the conversation.”

The study’s authors looked specifically at Australian fruit bat populations over the course of 25 years. They found that when organisms encounter a shortage of habitat and food, populations split and spread closer to where humans live. This often leads to increased spread of Hendra virus, a deadly pathogen that spreads from bats to horses and then to humans.

However, in times of more food and habitat for fruit bats, these creatures will stay away from human habitations—resulting in fewer cases of Hendra virus. In fact, cases of disease transmission stopped altogether in the winter when the eucalyptus trees bloomed and bats flocked to them.

The researchers were even able to accurately predict when pathogen transmission would occur using models based on “the bat’s climate, food availability, and location,” explains Plowright. “We show that when the remaining habitat produces food, the spread stops, and so a sustainable way to prevent these events could be to conserve and restore critical habitat. .”

It should be noted that the study only looked at one animal species and did not take into account the different organisms that can cause pathogen spread. However, the findings suggest that by using wildlife habitat conservation strategies (something we should do for the environment) it could go a long way in preventing the next pandemic from breaking out in the first place.

And when it comes to how COVID-19 develops and eventually spreads to humans, research couldn’t be more relevant. After all, it comes from bats—creatures that, if left alone well enough, could have saved us all from years of loss and profound suffering.

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