New epidemics: What else can infect a person?

    Where the next plague is brewing and the three most dangerous viruses?

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    New epidemics: What else can infect a person?
    Image Credit: EPA

    So far, about 250 pathogenic viruses have been transmitted to humans, scientists are confident – this is far from the limit and named the three most dangerous viruses.

    Until the world can fight the pandemic coronavirus scientists are figuring out what can start a new epidemic.

    The German edition of the Süddeutsche Zeitung describes a study by the University of California, Davis on pathogenic viruses that can be transmitted from animals to humans.

    Which viruses have the potential to jump from animals to humans? Quite a few, shows a risk list – for example “Predict_CoV-35”.

    Threat from animals

    In total, according to scientists, there are about 1.67 million viruses in the organisms of mammals and birds, about half of which can potentially be transmitted to humans – and thereby could cause a new epidemic.

    So far, about 250 pathogenic viruses have been transmitted to humans. These include the causative agent of Ebola, monkeypox, hepatitis E and MERS.

    Scientists from the University of California at Davis interviewed 65 experts in virology, epidemiology, ecology, and medicine, after which they identified 31 factors that increase the risk of transmission of the virus to humans.

    These include both the characteristics of the virus itself and the properties of the host animals. The risk increases when the virus circulates in animals that have frequent contact with humans. Or when the host animals are representatives not only of different species, but also of different orders of animals, for example, when the pathogen is found both in the body of rodents and in primates, indicates the great adaptability of the pathogen.

    Finally, environmental factors also play a great role, for example, such as when many people live in the habitat of host animals or invade their natural habitat.

    Where humans cut down trees, turn natural areas into fields, build roads in pristine areas, the likelihood of new contacts between humans and wild animals increases, which can lead to serious consequences.

    The most dangerous

    Scientists have assessed these risk factors for nearly 900 viruses found in animals and ranked the risk of transmission to humans.

    The first place was taken by the causative agent of Lassa fever. It regularly causes outbreaks of disease in humans; people get infected mainly through the excrement of mice living in fields and garden plots in regions of Africa.

    Other candidates for the transition to humans are new Lyssaviruses, which include, for example, the causative agent of rabies. Also at the top of the list is the Bombali virus, an ebolavirus discovered several years ago in bats.