“We are increasingly exposed to viruses with which, in nature, we did not come into contact normally. The alterations produced in the environment and the overpopulation of the planet are at the origin of this change”. This was explained by Giorgio Palù, emeritus professor of virology at the University of Padua and president of the Italian drug agency. “70% of all the viruses that have infected us in the last 30 years are zoonotic, they come from animals, 20% from insects (arboviruses), the rest are human viruses that we have always lived with”, reports Palù, heard by the Adnkronos Health. “For example, HIV comes from monkeys – he lists – the flu from ducks, Sars 1 and 2 from bats like Mers and Ebola, now Langya comes from the spider mouse”.
The reasons for this greater vulnerability, therefore, are closely linked to our development model. “We are populating the planet in a high way – Palù specifies – the inhabitants of the earth are in clear growth and we are occupying a whole series of ecological niches that belonged to wild animals”. Not only. “We are massively raising animals – cows, pigs, chickens, ducks but also fur specimens – in environments where they live in contact with each other. In China there are also live animal markets, where the different species are all together. This favors viruses in the leap of species “.
Add to this, continues the virologist, “that we alter the environment with deforestation, interventions that bring bats to the city, for example. We also move very easily from one part of the planet to another: last year 4 billion people have taken the plane and therefore what happens in China today the next day can happen in South America “. If this were not enough, “climate change leads temperate zones to become tropical and this causes new species of insects to settle where they have never been”, he concludes.
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