Reflections for today World Environment Day, dedicated to biodiversity and climate emergencies.
Because ecosystem integrity highlights human health and development.
- Did you know that about 60% of human infectious diseases and 75% of emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic, ie transmitted through animals?
- Some of these examples are Ebola, Avian Flu, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), Nipah Virus, Rift Valley Fever, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), West Nile Fever, Zikavirus and now the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, all of which are linked to human activity.
- The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is the result of forest losses that have brought wildlife closer to human settlements; avian flu is related to intensive poultry farming; the Nipah Virus arose due to the intensification of pig farming and fruit production in Malaysia.
- Although the origin of the outbreak and the spread of COVID 19 are not yet clear, there are already important aspects that are worth knowing:
- The interaction of humans or herds with wild animals can expose us to the spread of possible pathogens. For many zoonoses, herds serve as an epidemiological bridge between wildlife and human disease.
- The determining factors for the emergence of zoonoses are changes in the environment, usually the result of human activities, ranging from changes in land use to climate change; from changes in animal and human hosts to constantly evolving pathogens to exploit new hosts.
- Bat-associated diseases have arisen due to habitat loss as a result of deforestation and agricultural expansion. These mammals play important roles in ecosystems, being nocturnal pollinators and insect predators.
- Ecosystem integrity highlights human health and development. Human-induced environmental changes modify the population structure of wildlife and reduce biodiversity, resulting in environmental conditions that favour certain hosts, vectors and/or pathogens.
- Ecosystem integrity also helps control disease, supporting biological diversity and making it difficult for pathogens to spread, spread, and dominate.
- It is impossible to predict where or when the next outbreak will come from. However, evidence suggests that these outbreaks or epidemics may become more frequent as the climate continues to change.