CSIRO scientists are among a team of international experts warning that managing environmental change is key to preventing global animal-borne diseases.
With the US-based EcoHealth Alliance and Sapienza University of Rome, the CSIRO scientists have outlined their thoughts in a paper recently published in the PNAS scientific journal.
Diseases transmitted to humans from wild animals include Covid-19, Ebola, SARS, Zika and MERS. About 70% of emerging infectious diseases, and almost all recent pandemics, originate in animals (mostly wildlife), stemming from interactions among wild and/or domestic animals and humans, the scientists said.
Recent infectious diseases, including the coronavirus outbreak, have been driven by high human population density, environmental changes such as deforestation, intensification of livestock production and increased hunting and trading of wildlife, they added.
“Only in the last few years people have become aware of the link between the geographic origin of new zoonotic diseases and the disruption of habitats in areas of high biological diversity,” said lead author and former CSIRO research scientist Dr Moreno Di Marco.
“Efforts to reduce pandemic risk involve trade-offs with other societal goals, such as food and energy production, which ultimately rely on the same environmental resources. Those links cannot be ignored.”