Part of a new ongoing series, the One Tree Planted show is a video podcast where we interview people with unique experiences or expertise related to sustainability. Through down-to-earth conversations we explore ways that humanity can better engage with the natural world.
In today's episode, we speak to Dr. Amy Vittor and discuss human land use, deforestation, and the risk of pandemics from viruses like Covid-19.
Dr. Amy Vittor's research examines the effects of land use on vector-borne diseases. She also attends on the infectious diseases service at the University of Florida Shands hospital. We asked Dr. Vittor about the difference between Zoonotic diseases and vector-borne diseases; how human land use, wet markets, and deforestation has caused an increased risk of infectious disease; and what we can do to prevent future diseases from becoming pandemics.
Some key points:
A vector-borne disease entails an anthropod, such as a tick or sandfly, acting as an intermediary in transmitting pathogens between different vertebrates like animals and humans.
A zoonotic disease is one that can pass directly from animals to humans.
It's not entirely clear what makes humans susceptible to some zoonotic diseases but we may want to consider ourselves fortunate that this doesn't happen more often! In the case of Covid-19 and its origin in bats, scientists have learned that they have evolved with this virus and have developed strong immune systems to withstand a variety of viruses and bacteria that could be harmful to humans.
Deforestation and other forms of encroaching on wildlife habitats puts humans at greater risk of exposure to new or potentially harmful diseases. Wet markets, where many live animals are put in close contact with each other and humans further exacerbates our risks. But these are not simple issues, as people's livelihoods and survival necessities are often connected with the actions that put us at risk.
Enjoy the full interview with Dr. Vittor to better understand these challenges, and join us in finding the silver lining of what brings hope for a healthier future.
We plant trees on 4 continents around the world. Want to choose where yours are planted?
by Diana Chaplin