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Am Nat. 2016 Feb;187(2):E53-64. doi: 10.1086/684391. Epub 2015 Dec 21.

Quantifying Global Drivers of Zoonotic Bat Viruses: A Process-Based Perspective.


Emerging infectious diseases (EIDs), particularly zoonoses, represent a significant threat to global health. Emergence is often driven by anthropogenic activity (e.g., travel, land use change). Although disease emergence frameworks suggest multiple steps from initial zoonotic transmission to human-to-human spread, there have been few attempts to empirically model specific steps. We create a process-based framework to separate out components of individual emergence steps. We focus on early emergence and expand the first step, zoonotic transmission, into processes of generation of pathogen richness, transmission opportunity, and establishment, each with its own hypothesized drivers. Using this structure, we build a spatial empirical model of these drivers, taking bat viruses shared with humans as a case study. We show that drivers of both viral richness (host diversity and climatic variability) and transmission opportunity (human population density, bushmeat hunting, and livestock production) are associated with virus sharing between humans and bats. We also show spatial heterogeneity between the global patterns of these two processes, suggesting that high-priority locations for pathogen discovery and surveillance in wildlife may not necessarily coincide with those for public health intervention. Finally, we offer direction for future studies of zoonotic EIDs by highlighting the importance of the processes underlying their emergence.


bats; emerging infectious diseases; hotspots; land use; viral richness; zoonoses

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