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Emerging viruses under surveillance

Article on emerging diseases
No. 20867 of February 10, 2023

Innovation

Virology to prevent future pandemics. Scientists are trying to anticipate the passage of animal viruses to humans.

This winter, the dreaded influenza virus A (H1N1) was thankfully milder, and the infections it caused mingled with those of the seasonal flu. The pandemic of the previous winter, however reminded us that viruses can still be dangerous. We may even be at the dawn of a new offensive of infectious diseases. “The globalization of trade increases the risk of emerging pathogens that could spread rapidly around the world” recently observed Bernard Vallat, Director General of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), at the launch of the World Veterinary Year.  It is no coincidence that veterinarians are concerned with the topic: most new infectious diseases in humans originate from animals.

“Viruses have always spread beyond their natural reservoirs to infect other species,” said Arnaud Fontanet, Head of the Epidemiology of Emerging Diseases Unit at the Pasteur Institute. “But they now have more and more opportunities to cross the species barrier.” Unprecedented population growth, intensive farming, deforestation and global passenger travel are all factors that have increased the opportunities for contact with new viruses.

 

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