Future pandemics: travel, intensive farming, deforestation … how are our lifestyles exposed to viruses?

Sras, Mers, Ebola, bird flu, zika, Covid-19, HIV, monkeypox … Favored by our lifestyles, zoonoses, diseases transmitted to humans by animals, have multiplied in recent years, raising concerns about the emergence of new pandemics.

“The human-animal interface has become quite unstable,” said Dr. Mike Ryan, head of emergency at the World Health Organization (WHO). “Disease emergence and amplification factors have increased,” he said.

Monkeypox, last example to date

It has just been seen with the monkey’s smallpox, but not only that, he warned. This monkeypox – a monkeypox – caused by a virus transmitted to humans by infected animals – most often rodents – is the latest example of the proliferation of these zoonoses.

These are infectious diseases that vertebrate animals can transmit to humans. Some even end up becoming human-specific, like Covid-19. According to the World Organization for Animal Health, about 60% of emerging diseases are of zoonotic origin.

Appearing thousands of years ago, since humans intensified their interactions with animals by domesticating them, they have seen their frequency greatly increase over the last twenty or thirty years.

Elevages intensifs, travel …

In causa, “the intensification of travel, which allows them to spread more quickly and uncontrollably,” Marc Eloit, head of the Pathogen Discovery Laboratory at the Institut Pasteur, told AFP.

By occupying wider areas of the globe, man also helps to disrupt the ecosystem and to promote the transmission of the virus.

Intensify it industrial livestock thus increasing the risk of spreading pathogens among animals. Trade in wildlife is also increasing human exposure to the microbes they are likely to carry.

Deforestation and climate change

Strengthening deforestation, she the risk of contact between wildlifepets and human populations.

“When we deforest, we reduce biodiversity; animals that naturally regulate viruses are lost, making them easier to spread, “Benjamin Roche, a biologist at the Institute for Development Research (IRD), a specialist in zoonoses, told AFP.

Climate change will push many animals to flee their ecosystems to more livable lands, alerted in late April a study published in Nature. Or, by mixing more, the species will transmit more of their viruses, which favors the emergence of new potential diseases that can be transmitted to humans.

“We need improved timely monitoring of urban and wildlife, in order to identify the power when a pathogen is passed from one species to another,” said Gregory Albery, an environmental health specialist in l ‘. Georgetown University in the United States and co-author of the study. “And if the host host is urban or close to humans, we should be especially concerned.”

The study draws a future “network” of viruses jumping from species to species, and growing as the planet warms.

“We now have easy and quick means of investigation that allow us to react quickly in the event of the appearance of new viruses,” said Marc Eloit of the Pasteur Institute. “We are also able to develop vaccines very quickly,” as we have seen with Covid-19.

“It’s ready”

More “A whole new line of potentially dangerous, emerging diseases. We need to be prepared,” Eric Fèvre, Professor of Veterinary Infectious Diseases at the University of Liverpool (UK) and the International Animal Research Institute (Kenya).

This means, according to him, “focusing on the public health of the population” in the most remote areas and “Better study the ecology of these natural areas to understand how different species interact.”

Since the early 2000s, the concept of “One Health” has been promoted: it promotes a multidisciplinary and comprehensive approach to health issues with close links between human health, animal health and ecological status. global.

In France, it also launched in 2021 the international initiative “Presode”, which would prevent the risks of zoonotic emergencies and pandemics and improve cooperation with the world’s most relevant regions.

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