Humans are also Responsible for COVID-19
Since the outbreak of COVD-19 in China in December 2019, there have been different conspiracy theories related to its emergence. The most accepted theory is that COVID-19 is a zoonotic disease that got transferred from animal to human.
It most likely originated in a bat, possibly before passing through another mammal. This doesn’t mean we haven’t played a role in the current pandemic. Human intervention in wildlife habitats, biodiversity loss, and ecosystem degradation are acting as a source of virus spillover.
The number of emerging infectious disease outbreaks has more than tripled from the past four decades. More than two-thirds of these diseases are sourced from animals, and about 70% of those come from wild animals. Most of the infectious diseases that emerged recently like HIV, Ebola, avian, and swine flu are all zoonotic diseases. The rapid spread of COVID-19 has shown how quickly modern outbreaks can become a pandemic. Scientists have been warning of such pandemics.
- Habitat encroachment
The rapid growth of the human population has encouraged people to invade the territories of wild animals. Forests are being cleared to pave way for industrialization. Deforestation is also done to raise livestock, hunt, and extract resources. We are getting closer to wildlife.
This increases the exposure to the pathogens that normally never leave the places they inhabit. Ecosystem disruption is the cause of increasing the likelihood of transfer of pathogens, it also has an impact on how many viruses exist in the wild and how they behave.
- Trade of wildlife
These wildlife markets that sell meat and live animals are the main hub of the emergence of zoonotic diseases. Scientists also believe that COVID-19 emerged at a wildlife market in Wuhan, China. Caged sick animals incubate new pathogens and act as a source of transferring diseases from one species to another. For that reason, the world need to regulate strict laws for wildlife markets.
It is also being said that there should be a ban on wildlife markets, but millions of low-income people rely on the food and income sources from these markets. Strick administration is the most suitable option for these markets so that spread of infectious diseases is reduced.
Take the example of the emergence of the Nipah virus in Malaysia in the 1990s. Deforestation forced the fruit bats to move from their forest habitat to mango trees on pig farms. Bats often carry pathogens that don’t bother them, but in this case, when the pigs came in contact with the bat’s saliva, they became infected. The pigs then went on to infect farmers.
Clear evidence shows that disruption of the ecosystem is closely linked to the increased risk of transfer of novel infections. That is why experts emphasize the importance of the “One Health” concept. According to the “One Health” concept, the health of humans and the ecosystem are interlinked. When one is out of balance or facing disturbances, others follow suit.
by: Abeer Arshad