Wildlife Trade Increases The Risk Of Next Global Pandemic, Study Finds The wildlife trade could cause future disease outbreaks - Media Credit: Adobe. Do not use without permission.

Wildlife Trade Is ‘Key Risk Factor’ Behind Global Spread Of Disease, Study Finds

New research found that the wildlife trade is increasing the risk of another global pandemic

By

3 Minutes Read

A new study looked at the wildlife trade’s impact on the transmission of viruses. Researchers warned that the wildlife trade could increase the risk of zoonotic outbreaks, including those with global ‘pandemic potential’.

A zoonosis is an infectious disease transmitted between animals and humans. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), some diseases can begin as a zoonosis but develop into human-only strains – one example is HIV.

The analysis, which was led by The Nature Conservancy, was published in the journal Current Biology. The Nature Conservancy teamed up with the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and Environment (ATREE) in India to conduct the study.

Researchers studied 226 viruses known to cause zoonotic diseases across more than 800 mammal species. They categorized the animals into three groups: traded mammals, non-traded mammals, and domesticated mammals.

Researchers found that one-quarter of mammal species in the wildlife trade host 75 percent of the known zoonotic viruses. Compared to domesticated and non-traded species, commonly traded mammals had a ‘much higher’ risk of transmission.

Preventing the next pandemic

Lead author Dr Shivaprakash Nagaraju is a Senior Scientist for The Nature Conservancy in India. He said: “From our findings, it is conceivable that wildlife trade (legal and illegal) is the key risk factor driving the global spread of zoonotic and emerging infectious diseases.”

The international wildlife trade leads to more than one billion direct and indirect interactions between wildlife, domesticated animals, and humans, he added.

Dr Nagaraju said he hopes the research will guide global health experts on where to ‘concentrate their efforts to prevent the next global pandemic’.

Dr Joe Kiesecker is the co-author of the study and a Lead Scientist for The Nature Conservancy. He said: “If we want to stop the next pandemic before it starts, our findings indicate that we should, among other measures, focus our efforts on keeping rodents, bats, primates, ungulates, and carnivores out of wildlife trade.”

Other pandemic concerns

Humans interfering with animals has sparked concerns about disease outbreak before.

A January poll found that roughly 85 percent of Brits support an ‘urgent’ ban on factoring farming, due to concerns about COVID-19. The following month, reports found that the H5N8 strain of bird flu had infected humans for the first time.

And in June, 67 infectious disease experts wrote a letter urging for the end of fur farming.

“The intensive breeding conditions typical on fur farms – animals unnaturally crowded together, poor hygiene, stress, injuries and low genetic diversity – are ideal for the creation and spread of novel pathogens,” the letter reads.

“To risk jeopardising our ability to control and end this or future global coronavirus pandemics, for the sake of fur fashion production, would seem imprudent. 

“We therefore support the call by [Humane Society International] for a permanent global end to the breeding, keeping and killing of animals for the purposes of fur production, and the sale of fur.”

Millions around the world trust Plant Based News for content about navigating our changing planet & our role in it.

Our independent team of journalists and experts are committed to making an impact through a wide range of content—and you can help by supporting our work today.

heading/author

The Author

Jemima Webber

Jemima is the editor of Plant Based News. Aside from writing about climate and animal rights issues, she studied songwriting in London and psychology in Newcastle, Australia (where she was born).

More by Jemima Webber iconography/arrow-right

heading/comments

Leave a Comment

Plant Based News Comment Policy

In short:- If you act with maturity and consideration for other users, you should have no problems. Please read our Comment policy before commenting.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
buttons/scroll-to-top/scroll-to-top-small-active