The viral pandemics we’ve encountered over decades can all be traced back to animals. And unless we change our ways, we’re likely to see many more such pandemics.
Animals aren’t the problem — it’s us. Sure, wet markets and consumption of wild animals play a considerable part. But the global wildlife trade, deforestation and intensive agricultural practices all force animals into closer contact with people, creating a perfect environment for viral spillover. For example, a Nipah [NĒ-pah] virus outbreak in Malaysia was traced back to the clearing of rainforests. Displaced bats moved to fruit trees on nearby pig farms, where their droppings infected the animals below. Sick pigs infected farmworkers, and the rest was history.
All of this points to the need for a One Health approach where we work with — instead of dominating — animals and the land.