New Delhi: Climate change might affect the occurrences of diseases like bird-flu and Ebola. The researchers have been looking at how climate change and other environmental factors provide opportunities for animal-to-human diseases to interact and infect new host species, including humans. “These diseases are caused by pathogens, for example, viruses, bacteria or parasitic worms that cross from animals to humans, including notorious infections like bird flu, rabies virus and Ebola,” wrote one of the researchers, Dr Nicholas Clark in the study published in the Journal of Trends in Parasitology.
But importantly, our research also shows that different environments provide new opportunities for pathogens to interact with and infect new host species. “Now that we know that environmental conditions are key, the question is: how can we develop models to predict disease moving between species in times of global environmental change?” said one of the lead authors, Dr Konstans Wells.
“We need to find out more information about how climate alters animal-to-human shifts, and this might help us build a new modelling framework, which could help us forecast disease spread.” According to Dr Wells, computational tools to tackle this global challenge are available but are mostly being developed in other fields of study.
“Mathematical tools developed in the study of sensor networks, image processing and pattern recognition, and computational physics can help us predict when and where pathogens will be exposed to animals,” he added. Adapting these techniques in human and wildlife health research will be important if we’re to predict future emerging infectious disease epidemics or pandemics.
Many factors are driving the spread of infectious diseases, making it challenging to predict when and where they’ll emerge next. However, by feeding our growing understanding of disease patterns into models, there’s the hope we’ll be able to better forecast disease threads in the future, helping prepare for the next outbreak before it even arrives.”