According to researchers from Swansea University, domesticated animals might play a crucial role in spreading virus among humans and wildlife. Despite that, the researchers said that the viruses shared between humans and wildlife species differs between the two major groups of RNA and DNA viruses.
The lead of the study, Dr Konstans Wells, said, “Bats are commonly recognised as host of viruses that may eventually spillover into humans with devastating health effects, but the role of other mammalian groups and especially domestic species for the spread of virus are much less clear.”
“Many of the current and future viral threads are linked to viruses that circulate in different animal species, connecting humans and mammal species into a huge network of who shares viruses with whom.”
In order to find out the possible correlation between different virus species and their hosts, the researchers studied 1,785 virus species and 725 mammalian hosts around the world. The researchers found that domestic animals held the central links in networks of mammalian host-virus interactions.
Wells added, “We found RNA viruses to have high potential to shift across mammalian species with very different life histories and habitats, enabling them to be shared by more host species. This means also more risk for humans in terms of unpredictable emergence of novel infectious diseases.”
“It’s a matter of contact and interaction across borders,” he said. “Among the myriad of viruses and other pathogens present in different mammals across the globe, many of those that can jump and exploit novel host species benefit from humans and their companion animals leaving wildlife no longer alone – pathogens that benefit from increasing and novel contact opportunities among host species are the winners of intensifying land use and globalization.”