Global Infectious Disease Pandemic

Scientists warn that climate change could trigger the next major pandemic 2022-04-30 06:29:40

Global Infectious Disease Pandemic


Global infectious disease pandemic

As the global climate continues to warm, scientists predict that wild animals will have to relocate their habitats – most likely to areas with large human populations. This will greatly increase the risk of a viral jump in humans that could lead to the next major pandemic.

Researchers predict that as global warming continues, wild animals will be forced to migrate their habitats – most likely to areas with human populations – dramatically increasing the risk of a viral jump in humans, potentially leading to the next pandemic.

This link between climate change and virus transmission was described by an international research team led by scientists at Georgetown University in a paper titled “Climate Change Increases Risks of Cross-Species Transmission of the Virus” published April 28, 2022 in the journal temper nature.

In their study, the researchers conducted the first comprehensive assessment of how climate change is restructuring the global mammalian virome. The work focuses on geographic range shifts – the journeys that species will take as they trace their habitats into new areas. Since they encounter other mammals for the first time, the study predicts that they will share thousands of viruses.

Climate change will lead to new viral sharing among mammalian species

In 2070, human population centers in tropical Africa, southern China, India and Southeast Asia will overlap with projected hotspots for cross-species transmission of the virus in wildlife. Credit: Colin Carlson/Georgetown University

They argue that these shifts provide a greater opportunity for viruses such as Ebola or coronaviruses to emerge in new places, making them more difficult to track, and into new animal species, making it easier for viruses to jump through a “stepping stone” to species. Humans.

“The closest similarity is actually to the risks we see in the wildlife trade,” says study lead author Colin Carlson, PhD, assistant professor in the Center for Global Health Sciences and Security at Georgetown University Medical Center. “We worry about markets because bringing unhealthy animals together in unnatural groups creates opportunities for this tiered emergence process — like how SARS jumped from bats to civets, then civets to people. But markets are no longer special. In a changing climate, this kind of process will be It is the reality in nature almost everywhere.”

Of concern is that animal habitats will move disproportionately in the same places as human settlements, creating new hotspots for spread risks. Much of this process may already be underway in today’s 1.2 degree warmer world, and efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions may not prevent these events from unfolding.

An additional important finding is the effect of higher temperatures on bats, which account for the majority of new viral participation. Their ability to fly would allow them to travel long distances and share most viruses. Because of its central role in viral emergence, the largest impacts are expected in Southeast Asia, a global hotspot for bat diversity.

“Every step of the way, our simulations surprised us,” said Carlson. “We’ve spent years verifying these results again, with different data and different assumptions, but models always lead us to these conclusions. It’s a truly amazing example of how much we can, in fact, Predict the future if we try.”

With viruses beginning to jump between host species at unprecedented rates, the authors say the effects on conservation and human health could be startling.

“This mechanism adds another layer to how climate change threatens human and animal health,” says study co-author Gregory Alberi, PhD, and a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Biology in Georgetown University’s College of Arts and Sciences.

“It is unclear exactly how these new viruses might affect the species in question, but it is likely that many of them will translate into new protection risks and fuel the emergence of new outbreaks in humans.”

Altogether, the study suggests that climate change will become the single largest risk factor for disease emergence – surpassing prominent issues such as deforestation, the wildlife trade, and industrial agriculture. The authors say the solution is to pair wildlife disease monitoring with real-time studies of environmental change.

“When a Brazilian free-tailed bat reaches Appalachia, we should invest in knowing which viruses are tagging,” Carlson says. “Trying to detect these host jumps in real time is the only way we’ll be able to prevent this process from causing more spillovers and more epidemics.”

“We are closer to predicting and preventing the next pandemic than ever before,” Carlson says. “This is a big step towards forecasting – now we have to start working on the hardest half of the problem.”

“The[{” attribute=””>COVID-19 pandemic, and the previous spread of SARS, Ebola, and Zika, show how a virus jumping from animals to humans can have massive effects. To predict their jump to humans, we need to know about their spread among other animals,” said Sam Scheiner, a program director with the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), which funded the research. “This research shows how animal movements and interactions due to a warming climate might increase the number of viruses jumping between species.”

Reference: “Climate change increases cross-species viral transmission risk” by Colin J. Carlson, Gregory F. Albery, Cory Merow, Christopher H. Trisos, Casey M. Zipfel, Evan A. Eskew, Kevin J. Olival, Noam Ross and Shweta Bansal, 28 April 2022, Nature.
DOI: 10.1038/s41586-022-04788-w

Additional study authors also included collaborators from the University of Connecticut (Cory Merow), Pacific Lutheran University (Evan Eskew), the University of Cape Town (Christopher Trisos), and the EcoHealth Alliance (Noam Ross, Kevin Olival).

The research described is supported in part by a National Science Foundation (NSF) Biology Integration Institutes (BII) grant (BII 2021909), to the Viral Emergence Research Initiative (Verena). Verena, co-founded by Carlson and Albery, curates the largest ecosystem of open data in viral ecology, and builds tools to help predict which viruses could infect humans, which animals host them, and where they could someday emerge. NSF BII grants support diverse and collaborative teams of researchers investigating questions that span multiple disciplines within and beyond biology.

Addition funding was provided by the NSF grant DBI-1639145, the USAID Emerging Pandemic Threats PREDICT program, the Institut de Valorisation des Données, the National Socio-environmental Synthesis Center, and the Georgetown Environment Initiative.