Global shifts in mammalian population trends reveal key predictors of virus spillover risk.
ABSTRACT: Emerging infectious diseases in humans are frequently caused by pathogens originating from animal hosts, and zoonotic disease outbreaks present a major challenge to global health. To investigate drivers of virus spillover, we evaluated the number of viruses mammalian species have shared with humans. We discovered that the number of zoonotic viruses detected in mammalian species scales positively with global species abundance, suggesting that virus transmission risk has been highest from animal species that have increased in abundance and even expanded their range by adapting to human-dominated landscapes. Domesticated species, primates and bats were identified as having more zoonotic viruses than other species. Among threatened wildlife species, those with population reductions owing to exploitation and loss of habitat shared more viruses with humans. Exploitation of wildlife through hunting and trade facilitates close contact between wildlife and humans, and our findings provide further evidence that exploitation, as well as anthropogenic activities that have caused losses in wildlife habitat quality, have increased opportunities for animal-human interactions and facilitated zoonotic disease transmission. Our study provides new evidence for assessing spillover risk from mammalian species and highlights convergent processes whereby the causes of wildlife population declines have facilitated the transmission of animal viruses to humans.
Project description:The majority of human emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic, with viruses that originate in wild mammals of particular concern (for example, HIV, Ebola and SARS). Understanding patterns of viral diversity in wildlife and determinants of successful cross-species transmission, or spillover, are therefore key goals for pandemic surveillance programs. However, few analytical tools exist to identify which host species are likely to harbour the next human virus, or which viruses can cross species boundaries. Here we conduct a comprehensive analysis of mammalian host-virus relationships and show that both the total number of viruses that infect a given species and the proportion likely to be zoonotic are predictable. After controlling for research effort, the proportion of zoonotic viruses per species is predicted by phylogenetic relatedness to humans, host taxonomy and human population within a species range-which may reflect human-wildlife contact. We demonstrate that bats harbour a significantly higher proportion of zoonotic viruses than all other mammalian orders. We also identify the taxa and geographic regions with the largest estimated number of 'missing viruses' and 'missing zoonoses' and therefore of highest value for future surveillance. We then show that phylogenetic host breadth and other viral traits are significant predictors of zoonotic potential, providing a novel framework to assess if a newly discovered mammalian virus could infect people.
Project description:Most human infectious diseases, especially recently emerging pathogens, originate from animals, and ongoing disease transmission from animals to people presents a significant global health burden. Recognition of the epidemiologic circumstances involved in zoonotic spillover, amplification, and spread of diseases is essential for prioritizing surveillance and predicting future disease emergence risk. We examine the animal hosts and transmission mechanisms involved in spillover of zoonotic viruses to date, and discover that viruses with high host plasticity (i.e. taxonomically and ecologically diverse host range) were more likely to amplify viral spillover by secondary human-to-human transmission and have broader geographic spread. Viruses transmitted to humans during practices that facilitate mixing of diverse animal species had significantly higher host plasticity. Our findings suggest that animal-to-human spillover of new viruses that are capable of infecting diverse host species signal emerging disease events with higher pandemic potential in that these viruses are more likely to amplify by human-to-human transmission with spread on a global scale.
Project description:Zoonotic viruses that emerge from wildlife and domesticated animals pose a serious threat to human and animal health. In many instances, mouse models have improved our understanding of the human immune response to infection; however, when dealing with emerging zoonotic diseases, they may be of limited use. This is particularly the case when the model fails to reproduce the disease status that is seen in the natural reservoir, transmission species or human host. In this Review, we discuss how researchers are placing more emphasis on the study of the immune response to zoonotic infections in the natural reservoir hosts and spillover species. Such studies will not only lead to a greater understanding of how these infections induce variable disease and immune responses in distinct species but also offer important insights into the evolution of mammalian immune systems.
Project description:Historically, efforts to assess 'zoonotic risk' have focused mainly on quantifying the potential for cross-species emergence of viruses from animal hosts. However, viruses clearly differ in relative burden, both in terms of morbidity and mortality (virulence) incurred and the capacity for sustained human-to-human transmission. Extending previously published databases, we delineated host and viral traits predictive of human mortality associated with viral spillover, viral capacity to transmit between humans following spillover and the probability of a given virus being zoonotic. We demonstrate that increasing host phylogenetic distance from humans positively correlates with human mortality but negatively correlates with human transmissibility, suggesting that the virulence induced by viruses emerging from hosts at high phylogenetic distance may limit capacity for human transmission. Our key result is that hosts most closely related to humans harbour zoonoses of lower impact in terms of morbidity and mortality, while the most distantly related hosts-in particular, order Chiroptera (bats)-harbour highly virulent zoonoses with a lower capacity for endemic establishment in human hosts. As a whole, our results emphasize the importance of understanding how zoonoses manifest in the human population and also highlight potential risks associated with multi-host transmission chains in spillover. This article is part of the theme issue 'Dynamic and integrative approaches to understanding pathogen spillover'.
Project description:Pathogens originating from wildlife (zoonoses) pose a significant public health burden, comprising the majority of emerging infectious diseases. Efforts to control and prevent zoonotic disease have traditionally focused on animal-to-human transmission, or "spillover." However, in the modern era, increasing international mobility and commerce facilitate the spread of infected humans, nonhuman animals (hereafter animals), and their products worldwide, thereby increasing the risk that zoonoses will be introduced to new geographic areas. Imported zoonoses can potentially "spill back" to infect local wildlife-a danger magnified by urbanization and other anthropogenic pressures that increase contacts between human and wildlife populations. In this way, humans can function as vectors, dispersing zoonoses from their ancestral enzootic systems to establish reservoirs elsewhere in novel animal host populations. Once established, these enzootic cycles are largely unassailable by standard control measures and have the potential to feed human epidemics. Understanding when and why translocated zoonoses establish novel enzootic cycles requires disentangling ecologically complex and stochastic interactions between the zoonosis, the human population, and the natural ecosystem. In this Review, we address this challenge by delineating potential ecological mechanisms affecting each stage of enzootic establishment-wildlife exposure, enzootic infection, and persistence-applying existing ecological concepts from epidemiology, invasion biology, and population ecology. We ground our discussion in the neotropics, where four arthropod-borne viruses (arboviruses) of zoonotic origin-yellow fever, dengue, chikungunya, and Zika viruses-have separately been introduced into the human population. This paper is a step towards developing a framework for predicting and preventing novel enzootic cycles in the face of zoonotic translocations.
Project description:Free-ranging nonhuman primates are frequent sources of zoonotic pathogens due to their physiologic similarity and in many tropical regions, close contact with humans. Many high-risk disease transmission interfaces have not been monitored for zoonotic pathogens due to difficulties inherent to invasive sampling of free-ranging wildlife. Non-invasive surveillance of nonhuman primates for pathogens with high potential for spillover into humans is therefore critical for understanding disease ecology of existing zoonotic pathogen burdens and identifying communities where zoonotic diseases are likely to emerge in the future. We developed a non-invasive oral sampling technique using ropes distributed to nonhuman primates to target viruses shed in the oral cavity, which through bite wounds and discarded food, could be transmitted to people. Optimization was performed by testing paired rope and oral swabs from laboratory colony rhesus macaques for rhesus cytomegalovirus (RhCMV) and simian foamy virus (SFV) and implementing the technique with free-ranging terrestrial and arboreal nonhuman primate species in Uganda and Nepal. Both ubiquitous DNA and RNA viruses, RhCMV and SFV, were detected in oral samples collected from ropes distributed to laboratory colony macaques and SFV was detected in free-ranging macaques and olive baboons. Our study describes a technique that can be used for disease surveillance in free-ranging nonhuman primates and, potentially, other wildlife species when invasive sampling techniques may not be feasible.
Project description:Anthropogenic landscape changes contributed to the reduction of availability of habitats to wild animals. Hence, the presence of wild terrestrial carnivores in urban and peri-urban sites has increased considerably over the years implying an increased risk of interspecies spillover of infectious diseases and the transmission of zoonoses. The present study provides a detailed characterisation of the health status of the red fox (Vulpes vulpes), stone marten (Martes foina) and raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides) in their natural rural and peri-urban habitats in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany between November 2013 and January 2016 with focus on zoonoses and infectious diseases that are potentially threatening to other wildlife or domestic animal species. 79 red foxes, 17 stone martens and 10 raccoon dogs were collected from traps or hunts. In order to detect morphological changes and potential infectious diseases, necropsy and pathohistological work-up was performed. Additionally, in selected animals immunohistochemistry (influenza A virus, parvovirus, feline leukemia virus, Borna disease virus, tick-borne encephalitis, canine adenovirus, Neospora caninum, Toxoplasma gondii and Listeria monocytogenes), next-generation sequencing, polymerase chain reaction (fox circovirus) and serum-neutralisation analysis (canine distemper virus) were performed. Furthermore, all animals were screened for fox rabies virus (immunofluorescence), canine distemper virus (immunohistochemistry) and Aujeszky's disease (virus cultivation). The most important findings included encephalitis (n = 16) and pneumonia (n = 20). None of the investigations revealed a specific cause for the observed morphological alterations except for one animal with an elevated serum titer of 1:160 for canine distemper. Animals displayed macroscopically and/or histopathologically detectable infections with parasites, including Taenia sp., Toxocara sp. and Alaria alata. In summary, wildlife predators carry zoonotic parasitic disease and suffer from inflammatory diseases of yet unknown etiology, possibly bearing infectious potential for other animal species and humans. This study highlights the value of monitoring terrestrial wildlife following the "One Health" notion, to estimate the incidence and the possible spread of zoonotic pathogens and to avoid animal to animal spillover as well as transmission to humans.
Project description:Viral emergence as a result of zoonotic transmission constitutes a continuous public health threat. Emerging viruses such as SARS coronavirus, hantaviruses and henipaviruses have wildlife reservoirs. Characterising the viruses of candidate reservoir species in geographical hot spots for viral emergence is a sensible approach to develop tools to predict, prevent, or contain emergence events. Here, we explore the viruses of Eidolon helvum, an Old World fruit bat species widely distributed in Africa that lives in close proximity to humans. We identified a great abundance and diversity of novel herpes and papillomaviruses, described the isolation of a novel adenovirus, and detected, for the first time, sequences of a chiropteran poxvirus closely related with Molluscum contagiosum. In sum, E. helvum display a wide variety of mammalian viruses, some of them genetically similar to known human pathogens, highlighting the possibility of zoonotic transmission.
Project description:Zoonotic spillover, which is the transmission of a pathogen from a vertebrate animal to a human, presents a global public health burden but is a poorly understood phenomenon. Zoonotic spillover requires several factors to align, including the ecological, epidemiological and behavioural determinants of pathogen exposure, and the within-human factors that affect susceptibility to infection. In this Opinion article, we propose a synthetic framework for animal-to-human transmission that integrates the relevant mechanisms. This framework reveals that all zoonotic pathogens must overcome a hierarchical series of barriers to cause spillover infections in humans. Understanding how these barriers are functionally and quantitatively linked, and how they interact in space and time, will substantially improve our ability to predict or prevent spillover events. This work provides a foundation for transdisciplinary investigation of spillover and synthetic theory on zoonotic transmission.
Project description:Direct contact with domestic animals and wildlife is linked to zoonotic spillover risk. Patients presenting with animal-bite injuries provide a potentially valuable source of surveillance data on rabies viruses that are transmitted primarily by animal bites. Here, we used passive surveillance data of bite patients to identify areas with high potential risk of rabies transmission to humans across Brazil, a highly diverse and populous country, where rabies circulates in a range of species. We analyzed one decade of bite patient data from the national health information system (SINAN) comprising over 500,000 patients attending public health facilities after being bitten by a domestic or wild animal. Our analyses show that, between 2008 and 2016, patients were mostly bitten by domestic dogs (average annual dog bite patients: 502,043 [436,391-544,564], annual incidence per state: 258 dog bites/100,000 persons) and cats (76,512 [56,588-97,580] cat bites, 41 cat bites/100,000/year), but bites from bats (4,172 [3,351-5,365] bat bites, 2.3/100,000/year), primates (3,320 [3,013-3,710] primate bites, 2.0/100,000/year), herbivores (1,908 [1,492-2,298] herbivore bites, 0.9/100,000/year) and foxes (883 [609-1,086] fox bites, 0.6/100,000/year) were also considerable. Incidence of bites due to dogs and herbivores remained relatively stable over the last decade. In contrast bites by cats and bats increased while bites by primates and foxes decreased. Bites by wild animals occurred in all states but were more frequent in the North and Northeast of Brazil, with over 3-fold differences in incidence between states across all animal groups. Most bites reported from domestic animals and wildlife occurred in urban settings (71%), except for bites from foxes, which were higher in rural settings (57%). Based upon the Ministry of Health guidelines, only half of patients received the correct Post-Exposure Prophylaxis following a bite by a suspect rabid animal. We identified areas and species of high-risk for potential zoonotic transmission of rabies in Brazil and reveal that, despite increasing human encroachment into natural ecosystems, only patients reporting bites by bats increased. Our study calls for future research to identity the socio-ecological factors underlying bites and the preventive measures needed to reduce their incidence and potential risk of rabies transmission.