Enviro Disruptions Will Cause More Animal Diseases to Jump to Humans

In coming years, diseases — primarily viruses — passed from animals to human beings pose one of the principal threats to world health, warned a conference of scientists at the Royal Society in London yesterday. Environmental disruptions ranging from deforestation to population migration to global warming will bring human beings into increased contact with a range of animals, warned the conference, and as a result we can expect to see the emergence of at least 30 new diseases in the coming three decades. Said Professor Tony McMichael of Australia National University, “Diseases like SARS, HIV, and Avian flu have all probably jumped from animals to humans. We really shouldn’t be surprised by this. We need to think ecologically. [Cue ominous music.] These viruses are trying to evolve.”