Ecology and Pandemics

“At a new biobank in the Amazon, scientists are working to identify the risks of a new infectious diseases. It’s part of a growing field of science looking at the interactions between human health and environmental change.”

Veterinarian Prof Alessandra Nava is part of a team trying to build up a library of viruses circulating in the Amazon in a bid to forestall a similar outbreak here. Prof Nava said. “We saw it coming. We expected a pandemic like this.”

Across the world a web of scientists – epidemiologists, ecologists, biologists, geneticists, vets – are working on the intersection between human and animal health. “The clearance of forests for crops and livestock . .  can negatively impact the environment, creating a cascade of factors that facilitates the emergence and spread of diseases.”  Land use change is the most important driver in the emergence of zoonotic infectious diseases, which are often triggered by human destruction and exploitation of wildlife-rich habitats. 

This fascinating article looks at a number of factors enabling the expansion of disease into new areas. The conclusion is that “We are completely dependent on nature and have made our future vulnerable”.  Previously we thought that the consequences of this unfettered development were way in the future.  Now we know this is immediate and urgent – and we are all vulnerable. “It’s in moments like this that real change can happen.”

Read the full article Breaking down the Amazon: how deforestation could drive the next pandemic on Unearthed