With climate change we are seeing “species tectonics” which will “sharing their pathogens with the human species”Explained on Thursday April 28 at franceinfo by Jean-Francois Gueguin, director of research at the Institute for Research in Development (IRD) and at the National Research Institute for Agronomy, Food and the Environment (INRAE), specialist in the relationship between environment and health , while a study published this Thursday in the US journal Nature reassures that the world will not only get warmer, but also worse in the coming decades. Climate change will force many animals to flee their ecosystems in search of more livable lands: by mixing more, species will also transmit their viruses more, which will contribute to the emergence of new diseases that are potentially transmitted to humans.
Franceinfo: According to a study published in the journal Nature, with climate change, the risk of diseases should increase …
Jean-Francois Guegan: This is underscored by this important work based on the analysis of exceptional data on placental mammal species and their pathogens. In the context of climate change, as well as habitat change from agriculture and livestock development, we are seeing species that used to be separated by physical barriers come together and coexist. This is what I call species tectonics. Since these species, with all these modifications of global change, can coexist, live together in certain environments, they will also share their pathogens and, in particular, they will be able to share them with our species, that is, with the human species.
This climate evolution will push species to change their habitat, to interact with different environments, each time with the possibility of infection with new viruses…
It is what this analysis emphasizes that quantifies it. But now we face it every day. And this phenomenon started about 40 or 50 years ago. We will have changes in species habitats, many more encounters between certain species that in the past had only one place to coexist. But all these phenomena of global change now allow them to meet and also exchange the microbes they carry.
The study predicts at least 15,000 cross-species transmissions of the virus that could occur in the near future. It’s a lot?
Of course, this is an incredible number. But there are many more failures. And the failures, we can’t compare them to the successes that could lead to the pandemic responsible for Covid-19 at this time.
Is it possible to assess, determine the transmission of viruses to humans?
It’s still something very complex. But we can do this from analyzing certain genomes of viruses or bacteria to see their potential for exchange and transmission to the human species. But more and more often we notice that all shots are allowed. That is, we are seeing more and more transitions from animal to human, from human to animal, but also to plants. You have a vast array of plant microbial agents that are capable of transferring to animals and humans and causing current diseases and future infectious diseases of tomorrow. These passages are gaining in importance. And today they are much more possible than they were yesterday, simply because of this new coexistence, this species tectonics that is happening. This will provide other solutions for microbial agents to enable them to make multiple passages, in particular to the human species. And that means more risk.