Science

Killer Virus On The Rise, Thanks To Commercialization

By Donna Bellevue , Feb 15, 2017 01:28 AM EST
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A killer virus that causes panic and epidemics are spreading faster and becoming more common because of commercialization that often leads to deforestation, researchers say. The depletion of natural habitats for wild animals is making the deadly virus more common as their hosts, the wild animals, are becoming more exposed to humans. This is the important discovery made by researchers and virologists.

The deadly virus themselves aren't increasing. However, their exposure to humans has significantly increased in the past decades, resulting in numerous outbreaks as they spread from one continent to another through human travel. But the root of exposure happens when humans trek further into the forests and environments, to expand commercial land use, where they come in contact with viruses like Ebola, Zika, Yellow Fever, and HIV.

The killer virus commonly resides among bats, rodents, and other animals where they originally come from. However, due to urbanization and non-stop commercialization, humans get closer to these animals, increasing the chances for that virus to make the jump to infecting humans. Kevin Olival, an avid virus hunter, and researcher says that humans have changed the environment in such a way that these viruses are pushed closer to people, infecting cities and suburbs, the NPR reports.

Olival, who works for PREDICT, a US Agency for International Development project, spends time in the Malaysian rainforest to predict the next devastating virus before it ravages communities. According to the International Business Times, the palm trees in the rainforest have been devastated by the demand for palm oil, and Olival says that it is due to this kind of commercialization that forces the virus to migrate to the human population. So far, PREDICT has identified 820 new killer virus, and 120 known other viruses by sampling more than 74,000 people and animals in high-risk areas to help better prepare for future outbreaks.

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