Business Insider – According to experts, the new coronavirus likely originated in bats.
More than 75% of emerging diseases originate in animals; these are called zoonotic diseases, meaning they can jump from animals to people.
At least 10 outbreaks in the last century have spilled over to humans from mammals like bats, birds, and pigs.
- Ebola jumped from fruit bats in west Africa 40 years ago and has killed more than 13,500 people in multiple outbreaks.
- The Marberg virus, SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), MERS (Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome), and Nipah also originated in bats.
- The H7N9 and H5N9 bird flus, meanwhile, jumped from infected poultry to people in Chinese markets, together killing more than 1,000 people.
- The 2009-2010 swine flu pandemic (also known as H1N1) started, of course, in pigs. It killed nearly 300,000 people in a global pandemic and spread to 214 countries in less than a year.
According to experts, diseases will continue to spill over from animals to humans as the global population grows.
The more people there are on Earth, the more our species moves into wild habitats and encounters creatures that harbor viruses.
Eric Toner, a senior scientist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, previously told Business Insider:
“Infectious diseases will continue to emerge and re-emerge. I think it’s part of the world we live in now. We’re in an age of epidemics because of globalization, because of encroachment on wild environments.” Read more.