Areas where the next pandemic could emerge from highlighted by international team of researchers
- Published: Wednesday, 25 November 2020 10:04
Research has been published highlighting the areas where wildlife-human interfaces intersect with areas of poor human health outcomes and highly globalized cities, which could give rise to the next pandemic unless preventative measures are taken.
Led by the University of Sydney and with academics spanning the United Kingdom, India and Ethiopia, the open-access paper shows the cities worldwide that are at risk. The paper, ‘Whence the next pandemic? The intersecting global geography of the animal-human interface, poor health systems and air transit centrality reveals conduits for high-impact spillover’, has been published in the Elsevier journal, One Health.
The researchers took a three-staged approach:
- First, identify where the sharing of space between wildlife and humans is greatest, and therefore where spillover events would be expected to be most common. The researchers refer to this as the 'yellow' and 'orange' alert zones of two- and three-way interactions between humans, domesticated animals and wildlife.
- Next, identify where areas of high wildlife-human interface coincide with areas of poor health system performance, which would comprise areas expected to miss ongoing chains of transmission following a spillover event ('red-alert' zone).
- Finally, identify cities within or adjacent to these areas of spillover risk that are highly connected to the network of global air travel, and therefore may serve as conduits for future pandemics.
Of those cities that were in the top quartile of network centrality, approximately 43 percent were found to be within 50km of the spillover zones and therefore warrant attention (both yellow and orange alert zones). A lesser but still significant proportion of these cities were within 50km of the red alert zone at 14.2 percent (for spillover associated with mammal wildlife) and 19.6 percent (wild bird-associated spillover).
The paper can be read here (open access).