How Deforestation Helps Deadly Viruses Jump From Animals to Humans (The Conversation)

How Deforestation Helps Deadly Viruses Jump From Animals to Humans

Dr. Amy Y. Vittor, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Florida, co-authored a study on how deforestation helps deadly viruses jump from animals to humans. The coronavirus pandemic, suspected of originating in bats and pangolins, has brought the risk of viruses that jump from wildlife to humans into stark focus.

These leaps often happen at the edges of the world’s tropical forests, where deforestation is increasingly bringing people into contact with animals’ natural habitats. Yellow fever, malaria, Venezuelan equine encephalitis, Ebola – all of these pathogens have spilled over from one species to another at the margins of forests.

As doctors and biologists specializing in infectious diseases, the researchers have studied these and other zoonoses as they spread in Africa, Asia and the Americas. They found that deforestation has been a common theme.

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