Towards an era of pandemics?

Since the Coronavirus pandemic attracted the attention of the media, little-known scientific terms have entered into common use.

One of them is the word zoonosis. It indicates the diseases that attack humans from microorganisms present in some animals acting as a reservoir or vector. We are talking about 70% of very serious diseases such as bubonic plague, AIDS, Ebola, anthrax, rabies, SARS and many others.

Pandemics and environment

Researchers are worried because in recent decades the number of zoonotic epidemics has increased in geometric progression. Sure contribution to this issue is the upheaval of thousand-year-old ecosystems which until recently had their equilibrium and did not pose a threat to humankind.

The growth of the global population over the past hundred years has led to deforestation, openings of new mines and expansions of megacities which have dramatically reduced the distance between humans and wildlife. The latter can be the carrier of viruses that, for completely random mutations end up being hosted by animals – such as pigs or chickens – which men have long feed on.

Hunting, trade and wildlife consumption, together with the speed at which viruses can spread today, constitute a danger which humanity has never run before. Moreover, viruses – by their nature are mutant – can strike in much shorter time than scientists need to develop therapies and vaccines.

Past and future pandemics

An idea of what might happen could be taken by remembering that the arrival of Europeans in America resulted in the death of tens of millions of people, due to viruses and bacteria considered quite harmless on the other side of the ocean. Back then human contact was incomparably less frequent and intense than today. So, we can only hope that nothing similar will happen in the future. In other words, a deadly epidemic would not only hit a human group but the majority humanity.

Lastly, if we wonder what the current pandemic could teach to our super-tech – and super-presumptuous – civilization, the answer is simple. We must pay attention on the natural hazards which we do not know, tanks of deadly pathogens that, if mixed, mutate and can cause disasters from which there is no turning back.

Informazioni su GIOVANNI CARUSELLI 72 Articoli
Collaboratore di case editrici italiane (Einaudi, Rizzoli, Vallardi, Diakronia, etc.) per testi di storia e filosofia. Autore di saggi, "Il Pci da Gramsci a Occhetto", "Cento anni di storia lombarda" (con altri), "La memoria e le notizie" (con altri).

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