Animal viruses are jumping to humans. Forest loss makes it easier.

“The destruction of forests into fragmented patches is increasing the likelihood that viruses and other pathogens will jump from wild animals to humans, according to a study from Stanford University published this month,” the New York Times is reporting.

“The research, which focused on contact between humans and primates in western Uganda, holds lessons for a world reeling from the coronavirus outbreak and searching for strategies to prevent the next global pandemic.

“’Covid has taught us that once a pandemic starts, it’s very hard to control,’ said Laura Bloomfield, a doctoral candidate at Stanford and the study’s lead author. ‘If we can decrease the potential for people to come into contact with wild animals, that is one way to decrease the likelihood of having recurrent pandemics.’

“In Uganda, a rapidly growing population means more people are carving out patches of forest land to feed their families.

“Humans have already claimed more than a third of the Earth’s land for agricultural use. Tropical forests are being destroyed at record or near-record rates every year. In places like the Amazon and Indonesia, for instance, virgin rain forest is being burned to farm commodities like soy, palm oil and cattle. Recently, deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has risen sharply under the government of President Jair Bolsonaro.

“Eric Lambin, a professor of Earth system science at Stanford and one of the study’s co-authors, said that the United States has its own example of an animal-borne disease linked to patchwork woodlands close to suburban and rural communities: Lyme disease, which spreads from wildlife to humans by ticks.

“’We see the animals as infecting us, but the picture that’s coming from the study and other studies is we really go to the animals,’ said Dr. Lambin. ‘We intrude on their habitats.'”

The rest of the article is here.

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website SierraCulture.com. Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for 12 years, and he was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News for eight years, among other positions. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing, swimming, and trout fishing in the Sierra.

3 thoughts on “Animal viruses are jumping to humans. Forest loss makes it easier.”

  1. This link between environmental change and the increasing frequency of zoonotic pandemics should drive us human monkeys — at least in this part of the Western world — to adopt a more modern and resilient system of health care. It turns out that the brilliant just-in-time feature of modern supply-chain management is a recipe for health system collapse in the presence of pandemics (there’s no profit in maintaining a large backlog of empty hospital beds — or ventilators for that matter — just for the rare “black swan” event) It all adds up to an indictment of for-profit health care.

  2. I recently heard a podcast by a microbiologist who lays much of the blame for pandemics and other environmental disasters on glyphosate, the key ingredient in round-up. Apparently, the chemical, along with killing ‘weeds’, acts as an antibiotic and kills all of the microbes..in the soil, in our bodies, in plants and animals, severely reducing the ability of immune systems to fight off disease.. As the trumpers deregulate..

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