New Study Reveals Global ‘Hot Spots’ Where New Coronaviruses May Emerge

New Study Reveals Global ‘Hot Spots’ Where New Coronaviruses May Emerge

The new study used remote sensing to analyse land-use patterns throughout the horseshoe bat's range, which extends from Western Europe through Southeast Asia
Coronavirus Outbreak, News
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New Study Reveals Global 'Hot Spots' Where New Coronaviruses May EmergeHuman encroachment into natural habitat can also indirectly increase exposure to zoonotic disease by reducing valuable biodiversity, found the study
Highlights
  • The exact origins of the SARS-CoV-2 virus remain unclear
  • Horseshoe bats are known to carry a variety of coronaviruses
  • Horseshoe bats are observed in areas characterised by human disturbance

Washington: Global land-use changes including forest fragmentation, agricultural expansion and concentrated livestock production are creating ‘hot spots ‘ favourable for bats that carry coronaviruses and where conditions are ripe for the diseases to jump from bats to humans, finds a new study. The findings were published by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, the Politecnico di Milano (Polytechnic University of Milan) and the Massey University of New Zealand. While the exact origins of the SARS-CoV-2 virus remain unclear, scientists believe that the disease likely emerged when a virus that infects horseshoe bats was able to jump to humans, either directly through wildlife-to-human contact, or indirectly by first infecting an intermediate animal host, such as the pangolin, sometimes known as the scaly anteater. Horseshoe bats are known to carry a variety of coronaviruses, including strains that are genetically similar to ones that cause COVID-19 and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

Also Read: WHO’s Team Tracing the Origin Of COVID-19 Is Back From China; Experts Explain Why It Is Important To Find The Source Of The Outbreak

The new study used remote sensing to analyze land-use patterns throughout the horseshoe bat’s range, which extends from Western Europe through Southeast Asia. By identifying areas of forest fragmentation, human settlement and agricultural and livestock production, and comparing these to known horseshoe bat habitats, they identified potential hot spots where habitat is favourable for these bat species, and where these so-called zoonotic viruses could potentially jump from bats to humans. The analysis also identified locations that could become easily become hot spots with changes in land use.

Land use changes can have an important impact on human health, both because we are modifying the environment, but also because they can increase our exposure to zoonotic disease, said study co-author Paolo D’Odorico, a professor of environmental science, policy and management at UC Berkeley.

Also Read: Make Your Village ‘Corona Free’, Win Rs. 50 Lakh: Maharashtra Government

“Every formal land-use change should be evaluated not only for the environmental and social impacts on resources such as carbon stocks, microclimate and water availability but also for the potential chain reactions that could impact human health,” Paolo added.

Most of the current hot spots are clustered in China, where a growing demand for meat products has driven the expansion of large-scale, industrial livestock farming. Concentrated livestock production is particularly concerning because the practice brings together large populations of genetically similar, often immune-suppressed animals that are highly vulnerable to disease outbreaks, the researchers said. The analysis also found that parts of Japan, the north Philippines and China south of Shanghai are at risk of becoming hot spots with further forest fragmentation, while parts of Indochina and Thailand may transition into hot spots with increases in livestock production.

Also Read: COVID-19 Variant First Reported In India Threatens To Rapidly Spread In Sub-Region: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

The analyses aimed to identify the possible emergence of new hot spots in response to an increase in one of three land-use attributes, highlighting both the areas that could become suitable for spillover and the type of land-use change that could induce hot spot activation,” said study co-author Maria Cristina Rulli, a professor in hydrology and water and food security at the Politecnico di Milano in Italy. Maria added, “We hope these results could be useful for identifying region-specific targeted interventions needed to increase resilience to coronavirus spillovers.”

Human encroachment into natural habitat can also indirectly increase exposure to zoonotic disease by reducing valuable biodiversity. When forest lands become fragmented and natural habitats are destroyed, species that require very specific habitat to survive, called “specialists,” may dwindle or even go extinct. Without competition from specialists, “generalist” species, which are less picky about their habitat, can take over. Horseshoe bats are a generalist species and have often been observed in areas characterized by human disturbance. Earlier work by Rulli, D’Odorico and study co-author David Hayman has also linked forest fragmentation and habitat destruction in Africa to outbreaks of the Ebola virus.

Also Read: COVID-19 Infection Not Taken Serious Shape Among Children, Can Impact If Changes Nature: Dr VK Paul

By creating conditions that are disadvantageous to specialist species, generalist species are able to thrive, D’Odorico said.

“While we are unable to directly trace the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from wildlife to humans, we do know that the type of land-use change that brings humans into the picture is typically associated with the presence of these bats who are known to carry the virus.”

While China has been a leader in tree planting and other greening efforts over the past two decades, many of the trees have been planted in discontinuous land areas or forest fragments. To tilt the ecological balance back in favour of specialist species, creating continuous areas of forest cover and wildlife corridors are more important than increasing total tree cover.

Human health is intertwined with environmental health and also animal health, D’Odorico said.

D’Odorico added, “Our study is one of the first to connect the dots and really drill down into the geographic data on land use to see how humans are coming into contact with species that might be carriers.”

Also Read: Coronavirus Strain Found In India, B.1.617 Named “Delta Variant”: WHO

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene

World

19,89,21,889Cases
6,44,02,340Active
13,02,83,678Recovered
42,35,871Deaths
Coronavirus has spread to 194 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 19,89,21,889 and 42,35,871 have died; 6,44,02,340 are active cases and 13,02,83,678 have recovered as on August 3, 2021 at 3:55 am.

India

3,17,26,507 30,549Cases
4,04,9588,760Active
3,08,96,354 38,887Recovered
4,25,195 422Deaths
In India, there are 3,17,26,507 confirmed cases including 4,25,195 deaths. The number of active cases is 4,04,958 and 3,08,96,354 have recovered as on August 3, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths
Maharashtra

63,15,063 4,869

78,700 3,650

61,03,325 8,429

1,33,038 90

Kerala

34,25,473 13,984

1,65,834 2,057

32,42,684 15,923

16,955 118

Karnataka

29,08,284 1,285

24,045 123

28,47,627 1,383

36,612 25

Tamil Nadu

25,63,544 1,957

20,385 139

25,09,029 2,068

34,130 28

Andhra Pradesh

19,70,008 1,546

20,582 437

19,36,016 1,968

13,410 15

Uttar Pradesh

17,08,500 24

646 18

16,85,091 42

22,763

West Bengal

15,29,295 575

10,803 171

15,00,331 734

18,161 12

Delhi

14,36,401 51

538 44

14,10,809 95

25,054

Chhattisgarh

10,02,458 236

1,918 1

9,87,012 234

13,528 3

Odisha

9,79,737 1,032

13,318 820

9,60,386 1,785

6,033 67

Rajasthan

9,53,704 16

241 9

9,44,509 25

8,954

Gujarat

8,24,922 22

251 3

8,14,595 25

10,076

Madhya Pradesh

7,91,862 17

132 7

7,81,217 10

10,513

Haryana

7,69,956 14

703 12

7,59,614 25

9,639 1

Bihar

7,24,917 37

401 34

7,14,872 71

9,644

Telangana

6,45,997 591

8,819 54

6,33,371 643

3,807 2

Punjab

5,99,162 32

473 31

5,82,395 63

16,294

Assam

5,68,257 1,275

12,429 213

5,50,534 1,469

5,294 19

Jharkhand

3,47,223 23

239 15

3,41,855 38

5,129

Uttarakhand

3,42,198 37

574 35

3,34,261 71

7,363 1

Jammu And Kashmir

3,21,725 118

1,254 43

3,16,090 73

4,381 2

Himachal Pradesh

2,06,369 208

1,304 75

2,01,543 132

3,522 1

Goa

1,71,295 90

1,027 16

1,67,118 72

3,150 2

Puducherry

1,21,059 54

944 38

1,18,320 92

1,795

Manipur

99,872 541

9,814 591

88,480 1,120

1,578 12

Tripura

79,026 304

3,104 12

75,167 292

755

Meghalaya

65,939 350

5,843 200

58,987 537

1,109 13

Chandigarh

61,960 6

33 3

61,116 3

811

Arunachal Pradesh

48,565 305

3,508 167

44,823 469

234 3

Mizoram

40,111 748

12,316 127

27,642 618

153 3

Nagaland

28,004 59

1,300 44

26,130 99

574 4

Sikkim

26,880 126

3,323 131

23,211 256

346 1

Ladakh

20,345 5

57 0

20,081 5

207

Dadra And Nagar Haveli

10,650

15 9

10,631 9

4

Lakshadweep

10,207 12

79 4

10,078 8

50

Andaman And Nicobar Islands

7,539

6 1

7,404 1

129

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