Climate change increases cross-species viral transmission risk

At least 10,000 virus species have the capacity to infect humans, but at present, the vast majority are circulating silently in wild mammals. However, climate and land use change will produce novel opportunities for viral sharing among previously geographically-isolated species of wildlife. In some cases, this will facilitate zoonotic spillover—a mechanistic link between global environmental change and disease emergence. Because of their unique dispersal capacity, bats account for the majority of novel viral sharing, and are likely to share viruses along evolutionary pathways that will facilitate future emergence in humans. Surprisingly, we find that this ecological transition may already be underway, and holding warming under 2 °C within the century will not reduce future viral sharing. Our findings highlight an urgent need to pair viral surveillance and discovery efforts with biodiversity surveys tracking species’ range shifts, especially in tropical regions that harbor the most zoonoses and are experiencing rapid warming.

— source nature.com | 28 Apr 2022

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How the Climate Crisis Could Spark the Next Pandemic

As the U.S. COVID death toll approaches 1 million, we turn now to look at how the climate emergency could spark the next pandemic. A new study published in Nature shows the climate crisis and urban sprawl is forcing many wild mammals to relocate to new habitats where they interact with new species, including humans, leading to more viruses spilling over from one species to another. The researchers say this shuffling of viruses in mammals has already started and will increase as the Earth continues to warm.

what they did was to look at maps of where some 3,000 mammal species are now and where they’re likely going to be in warmer worlds under various conditions of projected warming. And then they will take different pairs of mammals and look at where those ranges overlap in ways that they currently don’t, and then predict how often those overlaps will lead to the kinds of spillovers that I’ve talked about. It’s a huge effort. No study like this has been attempted before, and it took them three years, over the course of the current pandemic, to do it.

But the results are very stark and quite grim. So, for example, it turned out that the hot spots for future spillovers are going to lay in the tropics, areas that are diverse in species and tend to be quite mountainous, so a lot of tropical Africa and Southeast Asia. They’re going to proportionately happen in areas that are basically in humanity’s backyard, areas

— source democracynow.org | Apr 29, 2022

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We Created the ‘Pandemicene’

For the world’s viruses, this is a time of unprecedented opportunity. An estimated 40,000 viruses lurk in the bodies of mammals, of which a quarter could conceivably infect humans. Most do not, because they have few chances to leap into our bodies. But those chances are growing. Earth’s changing climate is forcing animals to relocate to new habitats, in a bid to track their preferred environmental conditions. Species that have never coexisted will become neighbors, creating thousands of infectious meet-cutes in which viruses can spill over into unfamiliar hosts—and, eventually, into us. Many scientists have argued that climate change will make pandemics more likely, but a groundbreaking new analysis shows that this worrying future is already here, and will be difficult to address. The planetary network of viruses and wildlife “is rewiring itself right now,” Colin Carlson, a global-change biologist at Georgetown University, told me. And “while we thought we understood the rules of the game, again and again, reality sat us down and taught us: That’s not how biology works.”

In 2019, Carlson and his colleague Greg Albery began creating a massive simulation that maps the past, present, and future ranges of 3,100 mammal species, and predicts the likelihood of viral spillovers if those ranges overlap. The simulation strained a lot of computing power; “every time we turn it on, an angel dies,” Carlson told me. And the results, which have finally been published today, are disturbing. Even under the most optimistic climate scenarios, the coming decades will see roughly 300,000 first encounters between species that normally don’t interact, leading to about 15,000 spillovers wherein viruses enter naive hosts.

“It’s a little harrowing,” says Vineet Menachery, a virologist at the University of Texas Medical Branch. The study suggests that the alarming pace at which new or reemergent

— source theatlantic.com | Ed Yong | Apr 28, 2022

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Why are viruses hard to kill?

Viruses are among the biggest threats to humanity, with the current pandemic showing how these pathogens can shut down countries, halt entire industries and cause untold human suffering as they spread through communities.

Viruses have also evolved in such a way that they are difficult to kill. What makes them, including the coronavirus, so tricky to cure?

Part of the problem is the nature of viruses themselves. They exist like freeloading zombies — not quite dead, yet certainly not alive.

“Viruses don’t really do anything — they’re effectively inert until they come into contact with a host cell,” said Derek Gatherer, a virologist at Lancaster University in the

— source nbcnews.com | Denise Chow | May 7, 2020

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Coronavirus Epidemic Occurred in East Asia 25,000 Years Ago

The genomes of multiple East Asian populations bear the signature of a viral epidemic that occurred approximately 900 generations, or 25,000 years (28 years per generation) ago, according to a new study published in the journal Current Biology.

Throughout the evolutionary history of Homo sapiens, positive natural selection has frequently targeted proteins that physically interact with viruses — e.g., those involved in immunity or used by viruses to hijack the host cellular machinery.

In the millions of years of human evolution, selection has led to the fixation of gene variants encoding virus-interacting proteins (VIPs) at three times the rate observed for other classes of genes.

Strong selection on VIPs has continued in human populations during the past 50,000 years, as evidenced by VIP genes being enriched for adaptive introgressed Neanderthal variants

— source sci-news.com | Enrico de Lazaro | Jun 28, 2021

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CIA Link to Cuban Pig Virus Reported

With at least the tacit backing of U.S. Central Intelligence Agency officials, operatives linked to anti-Castro terrorists introduced African swine fever virus into Cuba in 1971. Six weeks later an outbreak of the disease forced the slaughter of 500,000 pigs to prevent a nationwide animal epidemic. A U.S. intelligence source told Newsday last week he was given the virus in a sealed, unmarked container at a U.S. Army base and CIA training ground in the Panama Canal Zone, with instructions to turn it over to the anti-Castro group. The 1971 outbreak, the first and only time the disease has hit the Western Hemisphere, was labeled the “most alarming event” of 1971 by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization. African swine fever is a highly contagious and usually lethal viral disease that infects only pigs and, unlike swine flu, cannot be transmitted to humans. All production of pork, a Cuban staple, halted, apparently for several months.

— source San Francisco Chronicle, Front page | Jan 10, 1977

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Long working hours killed 745,000 in 2016

The World Health Organization and the International Labor Organizaton have released a first of its kind study which found that 745,000 people died in 2016 due to long working hours, a 29 percent increase on 2000. Working 55 hours a week or more is associated with a 35 percent higher risk of a stroke and a 17 percent higher risk of dying from heart disease. The burden of work-related disease is most prevalent in men with 72 percent of dreaths occurring among males. According to the WHO, most of the deaths occurred among people who passed away aged between 60 and 79 who worked 55 hours per week or more while aged between 45 and 74. The trend may worsen during the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, which has significantly altered the way people work, the estimates flagged. The global analysis was the first of its kind on loss of life and health associated with working long hours, carried out by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Labour Organization (ILO). It was published in journal Environment International May 17, 2021.

— source statista.com | 17 May 2021

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#classwar

 

Millions at risk as deadly fungal infections acquire drug resistance

Scientists have warned that potentially deadly fungal infections are acquiring resistance to many of the medicines currently used to combat them. More than a million people die of fungal infections every year, including about 7,000 in the UK, and deaths are likely to increase as resistance continues to rise. Researchers say the widespread use of fungicides on crops is one of the main causes of the rise in fungal resistance, which mirrors the rise of resistance to antibiotics used to treat bacterial infections in humans. Fungi are everywhere. We breathe in more than 100 spores of aspergillus every day. Normally our immune systems mop them up but, when our disease defences are compromised – for example, during cancer treatments or after traumatic injuries – they lose the ability to fight back.

— source theguardian.com | 2016/aug/27

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Deadly Bacteria Spread across Oceans as Water Temperatures Rise

Deadly bacteria are spreading through the oceans as waters warm up, and are increasing infection risks, according to a new study. A report published yesterday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences examined the role of the changing climate in Vibrio infections. In the United States, Vibrio bacteria cause about 80,000 illnesses and 100 deaths each year. The species that causes the devastating diarrheal disease cholera, Vibrio cholerae, is responsible for up to 142,000 deaths around the world annually, according to the World Health Organization.

Plankton samples were collected from nine areas in the North Atlantic and the North Sea between 1958 and 2011. During this time frame, sea surface temperatures increased by roughly 1.5 degrees Celsius. From the plankton samples, researchers measured the presence and abundance of Vibriobacteria and compared the information to climate records. Controlling for other variables like ocean salinity and acidity, researchers found that Vibrio bacteria populations increased as sea surface temperatures rose.

— source scientificamerican.com | Aug 9, 2016

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A ‘Superbug’ Resistant To All Our Antibiotics

The issue of antibiotic resistance has been getting worse for quite some time. Today, well over five thousand Americans will acquire serious infections that are resistant to first-line antibiotics — think staph infection or tuberculosis. Second-line drugs will cost these patients between 50 and 200 times more than first-line drugs, not to mention the added cost of a hospital stay at about $2,000 per night. 63 Americans will die today from these infections. By year’s end, drug-resistant bacteria will have killed 23,000 — double the yearly number of firearm homicides.

In perhaps the most comprehensive report on the subject to date, economist Jim O’Neill predicted last month that by 2050, a staggering ten million people around the world will die of such infections every year — one person every three seconds.

— source thinkprogress.org | 2016

Let commons take over health care. health care is not for profit.

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