Tuesday, July 7, 2020

U.N. Predicts Rise In Diseases That Jump From Animals To Humans Due To Habitat Loss

A cut tree stands in a burned area in Prainha, Para state, Brazil. A U.N. report says habitat loss is leading to more animal-to-human transmission of disease. Leo Correa/AP

By Scott Neuman

A new United Nations report warns that more diseases that pass from animals to humans, such as COVID-19, are likely to emerge as habitats are ravaged by wildlife exploitation, unsustainable farming practices and climate change.

These pathogens, known as zoonotic diseases, also include Ebola, MERS, HIV/AIDS and West Nile virus. They have increasingly emerged because of stresses humans have placed on animal habitats, according to the U.N. Environment Program report Preventing the Next Pandemic: Zoonotic diseases and how to break the chain of transmission, released on Monday.

"We have intensified agriculture, expanded infrastructure and extracted resources at the expense of our wild spaces," UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen said. "The science is clear that if we keep exploiting wildlife and destroying our ecosystems, then we can expect to see a steady stream of these diseases jumping from animals to humans in the years ahead."  Read more >>