Novel Way To Identify Which Animal Viruses May Affect Humans
As per a study published in PLOS One, there exist a vast number of viruses that are life-threatening for animals but does not affect humans but the possibility may be there that it might have an impact on human health in near future. John Drake, Distinguished Research Professor of Ecology and director of the Center for the Ecology of Infectious Diseases at the University of Georgia and his team have unveiled a novel procedure to predict which of the animal pathogens may have the potential to affect humans too and can be transferable from person to person.
As per John Drake, upon experimenting over novel pathogens that affect humans, a common conclusion was that those pathogens already existed in the animal kingdom and was circulated widely. This made them think about the procedure, how the lethal pathogens interact with their hosts. They believe the host-pathogen interacting procedure might be the key to understand how the pathogens get transmitted interspecies.
Drake and his team in order to analyze these host-pathogen interactions have aggregated data listing the names of viruses known to infect humans along with its biological characteristics. The outcome is one of the worlds most comprehensive and accurate data till date.
Upon analysis, the team identified several characteristics which were most common among the viruses and can spread to humans. The traits included the ability to infect non-human primates, the presence of the virus in the human liver, respiratory tract or CNS and much more. More than 84% of the viruses listed were found to spread across humans as per the common traits studies and also based on the pathogens ability to survive in different environments.
Now as a result of analysis of most unlikely animal viruses to affect the humans, 47 viruses were found that ranked greater than the least-likely virus known transmissible. Carnivore amdoparvovirus 1, Hendra virus, Cardiovirus A, Rosavirus A, HTLV-3, HTLV-4, and Simian Foamy virus were some of the virus shortlisted to spread rapidly among humans. During the formulation of the list, the scientists do agree that they might have missed out on a few virus strains especially the subtypes in spite of the high level of accuracy. Different strategies need to be adopted to study those as well.
They advocated that their future research focus on understanding this at a finer scale. The capacity to predict which viruses are effective at spreading among humans, and therefore have the potential to cause epidemics, has practical consequences.