From the Politecnico di Milano the map of places at risk of new pandemics

From the Politecnico di Milano the map of places at risk of new pandemics
From the Politecnico di Milano the map of places at risk of new pandemics

Editorial board
07 June 2021 13:08

While the data on infections and hospitalizations outline an increasingly positive picture that gives hope for an end as close as ever to the third wave, there are already those who are thinking about the next possible pandemics, because the time to prevent is now. The map indicating the places on earth where the spillover (the passage of a virus from one animal species to another) could take place comes from the Politecnico di Milano.

Transmission of coronaviruses from bats to humans is easier where forests are destroyed to make room for livestock. This is indicated by the research conducted by Maria Cristina Rulli of the Politecnico di Milano, in collaboration with the University of California at Berkeley, and Massey University in New Zealand, published in Nature Food, which has identified the places most at risk for any future leaps of species for other coronaviruses.

“Our work – he specified to theAnsa Rulli – was to look for the hotspots, that is the places with the characteristics most at risk, in which any spillover, the so-called species jump, of other coronaviruses typical of bats towards humans could occur “. still certainties about the origins of the new coronavirus, for decades scientists have been studying the dangerous passage of viruses, which in the past has already caused numerous pandemics, highlighting how this happens more frequently when there are no longer filters between wild animals and human activities (situation always more frequent given the incessant and progressive destruction of natural habitats).

The researchers collected data on the distribution of Rhinolophus bats, known as ‘horseshoe’ and very common in Asia and partly also in Europe, and superimposed them on detailed maps of human activities, in particular agricultural and sheep farming, to then identify a series of places particularly at risk of spillover, from which future coronavirus epidemics could potentially start (as well as in the recent past Sars).

The research has highlighted a series of areas, especially in China, Indochina and Thailand, which should be monitored to avoid the outbreak of other pandemics. “With this type of data two actions are possible – continued Rulli -. On the one hand, to guide the authorities to greater control of danger points and to introduce more sustainable policies, with a better balance between human activities and forests, on the other. act in time in areas with still low risk but where the danger factors could presumably increase “. To avoid a future hostage to other, perhaps even more fearful, pandemics, it is necessary to protect the environment and biodiversity and conduct further research on the conditions in which spillover is more likely.


Politecnico Milano map places risk pandemics

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