Climate crisis is likely to see the emergence of new viruses which could impact Africa and Asia in particular, according to new research.

Scientists increasingly believe that the fallout from climate crisis will also see the emergence of new viruses.
Scientists increasingly believe that the fallout from climate crisis will also see the emergence of new viruses. (Reuters)

Climate crisis will result in thousands of new viruses spread among animal species by 2070 — and that's likely to increase the risk of emerging infectious diseases jumping from animals to humans, according to a new study.

This is especially true for Africa and Asia, continents that have been hotspots for deadly disease spread from humans to animals or vice versa over the last several decades, including the flu, HIV, Ebola and coronavirus.

Researchers, who published their findings on Thursday in the journal Nature, used a model to examine how over 3,000 mammal species might migrate and and share viruses over the next 50 years if the world warms by 2 degrees Celsius, which recent research shows is possible.

They found that cross-species virus spread will happen over 4,000 times among mammals alone. Birds and marine animals weren't included in the study.

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Two pressing global crises

Researchers said not all viruses will spread to humans or become pandemics the scale of the coronavirus but the number of cross-species viruses increases the risk of spread to humans.

The study highlights two global crises — climate change and infectious disease spread — as the world grapples with what to do about both.

Previous research has looked at how deforestation and extinction and wildlife trade lead to animal-human disease spread, but there's less research about how climate change could influence this type of disease transmission, the researchers said at a media briefing on Wednesday.

“We don't talk about climate a lot in the context of zoonoses" — diseases that can spread from animals to people, said study co-author Colin Carlson, an assistant professor of biology at Georgetown University. “

Our study ... brings together the two most pressing global crises we have."

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies