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Why do so Many Epidemics Originate in Asia and Africa?


In recent years, many have noticed that news reports claim that viruses and variants usually originate or are discovered in Asian or African regions.

According to a virologist and associate director of the Animal Diagnostic Laboratory at Penn State University, there are three main reasons for this. 

Firstly, population explosion and changing urban landscapes.

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Rapid urbanization is happening throughout Asia and the Pacific regions, where 60% of the world already lives.

According to the World Bank, almost 200 million people moved to urban areas in East Asia during the first decade of the 21st century. To put that into perspective, 200 million people could form the eighth most populous country in the world.

Migration on that scale means forest land is destroyed to create residential areas. Wild animals, forced to move closer to cities and towns, inevitably encounter domestic animals and the human population.

Read more: WHO calls special conference as new Corona Virus variant in South Africa raises concerns

Wild animals often harbor viruses; bats, for instance, can carry hundreds of them. Viruses, jumping species to species, can ultimately infect people.

The situation is only likely to get worse. A major proportion of East Asia’s population still lives in rural areas. Urbanization is expected to continue for decades.

Second, subsistence agriculture and animal markets.

On both continents, many families depend on subsistence farming and a minuscule supply of livestock. Disease control, feed supplementation and housing for those animals is extremely limited.

Cattle, chickens and pigs, which can carry endemic disease, are often in close contact with each other, a variety of nondomestic animals and humans.

Lastly, the continued evolution of viruses.

Read more: Plant-Based Antiviral for Corona Virus Effective In Blocking SARS-CoV-2 Variants

It’s difficult to predict precisely what chain of events cause a pandemic, but one thing is certain: these risks can be mitigated by developing strategies to minimize human effects which contribute to the ecological disturbances.

As the current outbreak has shown, an infectious disease that starts in one part of the world can spread globally in virtually no time whatsoever.

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The coronaviruses alone have caused three major outbreaks worldwide. Even more troubling, the duration between pandemics has seemed to grow shorter.

It is important for people to still follow basic health protocols to keep themselves and their families safe from the coronavirus, and other viruses that will arise. 

Stay updated for more news here at the East County Gazette. 

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