Climate change may cause more frequent pandemics - study

Publication titleJerusalem Post, The: Web Edition Articles (Israel)
Published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature, the study was led by a research team at Georgetown University

The researchers concluded that global warming will cause wild animals to relocate their habitats to areas closer to human populations, making humans more susceptible to contracting viruses from them.

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"The closest analogy is actually the risks we see in the wildlife trade," said the study's lead author Colin Carlson. "We worry about markets because bringing unhealthy animals together in unnatural combinations creates opportunities for this stepwise process of emergence - like how SARS jumped from bats to civets, then civets to people.

"But markets aren't special anymore," he said. "In a changing climate, that kind of process will be the reality in nature just about everywhere."

The study particularly marked the risk concerning bats, which are the majority of virus spreaders from animals to humans. This is because their ability to fly allows them to travel longer distances, spreading the most viruses. As a result, Southeast Asia is expected to be one of the areas of greatest impact because of the large population of bats that live there.

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