Why are so many diseases spread by animals?

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — The world is catching up with the new coronavirus, which has spread from China to at least 15 other countries.

The new virus is thought to originate in wild life, namely animals. This is likely to be more of a problem in the future as climate change and globalization change the way animals and humans interact.

Most animals carry a large range of pathogens, bacteria and viruses that can cause disease. The evolutionary survival of the pathogen depends on infecting new hosts, and jumping to other species is one way to do so.

The new host’s immune systems try to destroy pathogens, meaning they are both locked in a timeless evolutionary game trying to find new ways to defeat each other.

For example, about 10% of those infected died during the Sars 2003 epidemic, compared with less than 0.1% for a “typical” flu epidemic.

Changing the environment and climate is removing and changing the habitat of animals, changing the way they live, where they live and who they eat. The way people live has also changed: 55% of the global population now lives in cities, up from 35% 50 years ago.

These larger cities provide new homes for wildlife, rats, squirrels, foxes, birds, jackals and monkeys who can live in green spaces such as parks and gardens, and feed on the waste people leave behind.

Only about 10% of the world’s pathogens have been documented, so more resources are needed to identify the rest and which animals carry them. For example, how many mice are there in a capital city of the world, and what diseases do they carry?

Many townspeople appreciate urban wildlife, but we also need to recognize that some animals carry severe diseases. It makes sense to keep track of which animals are coming soon to cities and whether people are killing or eating wildlife or bringing it to markets from the surrounding area.

Improved sanitation, waste disposal, and utilizing pest control services, from companies like are just some of the ways to help stop the occurrence and spread of these “outbreaks” of viruses.

More broadly, it is about changing the way our environments are managed and the way people interact with them.


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