In order to anticipate where and when the next pandemic may emerge, researchers and scientists from all around the world are working together to understand what causes infectious diseases to spread from animals to people.
A 2021 study found that 60% to 70% of infectious diseases affecting people now have their origins in wild animals. Some researchers think the COVID-19 pandemic was caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus spreading from bats to people, a condition known as “Zoonotic spillover”.
Bats are of particular interest because they are natural reservoirs for a number of viruses, including the viruses that cause SARS, MERS, and COVID-19. By studying bats and the viruses they carry, scientists hope to better understand how these viruses emerge and spread to humans. This knowledge can help public health officials prepare for and respond to future outbreaks
Since the pandemic began, scientists have worked harder to completely comprehend how viruses from wild animals spread to people.
The stresses caused by human interference with wildlife habitats, according to some experts, may contribute to the occurrence of zoonotic spillover. For instance, a 2022 study that appeared in the journal Nature revealed that the likelihood of spillover is increased by habitat loss and climate change.
Currently, a team of 70 scientists from seven different nations working to understand how bats transfer viruses and when and where the next potentially lethal virus will spread to people. Raina Plowright, a disease ecologist and co-author of the Nature study as well as a subsequent work published in Ecology Letters, created a project called BatOneHealth with the goal of better understanding bat-to-human virus transmission through a number of important studies, reported Health News.
These efforts include fieldwork with bats in hotspots around the world, knowledge of bat immune systems and behaviors, identification of human-infecting viruses, and modeling of virus dynamics. In order to stop zoonotic spillover, they are also investigating habitat restoration techniques.
Researchers mainly concentrated on coronaviruses, Nipah, and Hendra viruses that are spread by bats.
A report by the outlet said that The research was conducted at Montana State University, Cary Institute, Cornell University, Johns Hopkins, Penn State, Rocky Mountain Lab, Texas Tech, UC Berkeley, UC Los Angeles, and Colorado State, among other American universities.
The global BatOneHealth team ultimately hopes that their research will contribute to the creation of plans to safeguard people, animals, and ecosystems from newly emerging infectious diseases brought on by zoonotic infections.
It’s important to note that while studying bats is one way to help predict and prevent future pandemics, it’s not the only approach. Other important strategies include improving global public health infrastructure, monitoring emerging diseases, and investing in vaccine research and development.
Ultimately, preventing pandemics requires a multi-faceted approach that involves collaboration between scientists, public health officials, and government leaders.