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Destroying Natural Habitats Bring Pandemic Causing Pathogens Closer to Humans

Image for representation (Reuters)

Image for representation (Reuters)

It is well known how the world is currently fighting the zoonotic COVID-19 pandemic, which has been suspected to have emerged from a bat.

For time immemorial, humans have been changing the ecosystem according to their convenience. In earlier times, people loved and preferred to live in natural habitats, co-existing with other life forms.

However, as the demands increase, the need for housing and space has also grown, leading to the destruction of several natural habitats. Apart from bringing us closer to global warming, these activities are also bringing disease-hosting and carrying pathogens closer to our lives, as claimed by a study.

A team of researchers from the University College London (UCL), UK, has established that human-managed ecosystems serve as a gate to several zoonotic diseases as compared to natural habitats. The study, published in the journal Nature, compares the disease-causing health costs in relation to land use and conservation planning.

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-2562-8

As per the study, zoonotic diseases, which include the likes of Ebola, Lassa fever and Lyme disease, are transmitted through pathogens transferred from animals to humans. We draw these hosts closer to our lives as we introduce changes to the land use pattern.

To conduct the study, researcher Kate Jones and colleagues observed 6,801 ecological systems and 376 host species worldwide. They concluded that the way we use the land can result in global and systematic effects on local zoonotic host communities.

The species that are worst affected includes rodents, bats and passerine birds. It is well known how the world is currently fighting the zoonotic COVID-19 pandemic, claimed to have emerged from a bat.

“Our results suggest that global changes in the mode and the intensity of land use are creating expanding hazardous interfaces between people, livestock and wildlife reservoirs of zoonotic disease,” reads the conclusion.

first published:August 07, 2020, 13:36 IST