Since the 1990s scientists have documented the rising threat of emerging infectious diseases spreading among people and other animals, fuelled by human activities ranging from the bushmeat consumption and the wildlife trade to the destruction of wild habitats. Scientists have confirmed that the majority of human Emerging Infectious Diseases (EID’s), viruses in particular, are of animal origin. Furthermore, they have established that EID’s have increased in frequency, with the proportion of those emerging from wild animals increasing substantially over the last four decades of the twentieth century.
Pathogens originating from wild animals include human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1 and HIV-2), Ebola haemorrhagic fever, Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), Marburg virus, Sin Nombre virus, Nipah, Hendra and Menangle virus, West Nile virus and Borrelia burgdorferi. The origin of HIV is widely thought to be linked with the consumption of primates. Ebola outbreaks in humans have been traced to infected great apes hunted for food. The SARS coronavirus was associated with the international trade in small carnivores and bats. The transmission of infectious agents due to wildlife trade is not limited to human pathogens: domestic animals as well as native wildlife are also heavily impacted. …”
The next section identifies a number of examples of transmission.
As with last week’s blog, this is not an easy read, and the pictures are not the sort you see in glossy magazines or on prime time TV wildlife shows, but the issues could hardly be more serious, and are just the sort of thing that older students ought to be grappling with as they ponder the state of the world.