Is This The Answer To “Disease X”? Scientists Identify Crucial Prevention Strategy

Is This The Answer To “Disease X”? Scientists Identify Crucial Prevention Strategy

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Is This The Answer To 'Disease X'? Scientists Identify Crucial Prevention Strategy

A novel approach to preventing future pandemics has emerged from researchers at Cornell University and the Wildlife Conservation Society: coexisting peacefully with bats. Their study, published in “The Lancet Planetary Health,” advocates for not disturbing the bats, often vilified as potential disease carriers. While bats harbor numerous viruses, including one closely related to COVID-19, the study argues that disturbing bats through culling or habitat destruction actually increases the risk of zoonotic spillover, where animal-borne pathogens like “Disease X” jump to humans.

Explained: What Is Disease X That Can Cause Next Pandemic

The researchers propose that safeguarding bat habitats and minimizing human interference will significantly reduce the likelihood of future pandemics. This paradigm shift towards peaceful coexistence with bats may offer a crucial strategy for safeguarding public health.

The World Health Organization has recently cautioned that the occurrence of the next pandemic, labeled ‘Disease X,’ is inevitable and only a matter of time.

“In a globalized world with 8 billion people, we can no longer ignore our interconnectedness with the wildlife and ecosystems around us. We must change humanity’s relationship with nature if we want to prevent the next pandemic of zoonotic origin-and that can start with bats,” says Dr. Susan Lieberman, WCS’s Vice President for International Policy.

Simply put, humanity must change its broken relationship with nature, specifically wildlife and bats in particular. The costs of implementing the human behavioral changes we need are insignificant compared to the costs of another global pandemic, which could be even more devastating.

“Getting humanity to work collaboratively at a global scale underpins most of the existential challenges we face, from climate change and environmental pollution to biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse-this at a time when earnest collaboration even at local scales often seems elusive,” notes Cornell Professor of Wildlife Health & Health Policy Steven A. Osofsky, lead author of the study. “However, if we can actually stop hunting, eating, and trading bats, stay out of their caves, keep livestock away from areas where bats are concentrated, and if we can stop deforesting, degrading (or even start restoring) their natural habitats, we can indisputably lower the chances of another pandemic.”

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