The relationship between habitat loss, Climate changeand emerging new Viruses It has never been more clear than now Epidemic.

to come SARS-CoV-2 and expansion Covid-19 brought to high attention How people move Deforestation It can transmit viruses to humans from wild animals.

In a new study, researchers have compared data collected over 25 years in Australia to show the relationship between habitat loss, animal behavior and viral shedding.

In particular, scientists looked at the bat Hendra VirusPrimarily fruit bats (also known as flying foxes); The virus can jump to humans through horses.

“Interactions between land-use change and climate are now driving bats into agricultural areas where there is a constant shortage of food,” said Peggy Eby, a behavioral ecologist at Australia’s University of New South Wales. Write In their published paper.

Zoonotic spillover describes how viruses and other pathogens found in animals can jump to humans, sometimes with fatal results. Hendra virus is one example; HIV, EbolaRabies and plague add to the short list of other zoonotic diseases.

Hendra virus – named after the Brisbane suburb where it was found In the year In 1994 – it can cause serious and even fatal disease in humans and horses. Bats that often forage in horse paddocks transmit the virus and as of 2006 the frequency and abundance of Hendra virus in Australia. added.

In this study, Eby and colleagues dug through decades of data to study rapid changes in bat behavior that coincided with Hendra virus spillover events in southwest Queensland between 1996 and 2020. Loss of foraging areas, local climate, food supplies and habitats.

“From 2003 to 2020, bat behavior and shedding events changed rapidly: the number of roosts tripled, and 40 sheddings were discovered,” Eby and colleagues said. Report.

The researchers fitted the data to a statistical model to determine how changes in climate and land use could drive bats to live in farms and cities and increase the risk of Hendra virus exposure to horses.

In the year By 2018, nearly a third of natural fruit bat habitat had been cleared in 1996, driving bats into urban areas, although most incidents (86 percent) occurred in agricultural areas where horses roamed.

Drought-induced El Nino events led to winter food shortages for bats, which led to increased proximity to human-populated areas where bats could find food.

Food shortages and habitat loss not only drive bats into areas inhabited by humans and horses—increasing the number of human-animal interactions—but Previous research suggests Nutritional stress may increase virus shedding in bats.

“The timing of the spread of Hendra virus during the winter, months after the previous year’s food shortage, may be due to the overall effect of nutritional stress to meet high energy demands during winter (thermoregulation and pregnancy) and the scarcity of resources in suboptimal environments,” the researchers said. Write.

During the winter, when native forests bloom in abundance – something that is becoming more common – bats return to their usual nomadic lifestyle, leaving urban and agricultural areas for their natural habitats, and during these periods, no discharge events occurred.

Protecting forest remnants, especially winter-blooming forests that provide food in times of food shortage, “could be a sustainable and long-term strategy to reduce losses and protect animal and human health,” the researchers said. To conclude.

Replication of such research in areas where zoonotic diseases are common will reveal the dynamics that contribute to those outbreaks and inform strategies to mitigate the risk of infection.

However, long-term data spanning decades on viral reservoir hosts, particularly bats, are scarce. And even with our data, it keeps coming back to the same problem: humans are constantly destroying habitats and destroying biodiversity.

A 2020 analysis Around 6,800 ecosystems across 6 continents found that animals that survive and thrive as biodiversity declines, such as bats and rodents, are also more likely to host potentially dangerous pathogens, highlighting the vulnerability of zoonotic disease outbreaks.

“We’ve been warning about this for decades,” said Kate Jones, an ecological modeler at University College London, who co-authored that study. They spoke Nature When published in August 2020

“No one paid attention.”

A recent study by Nature.

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