Analyzing the Roles and Risks of Wildlife in the Emergence of Human Infectious Diseases

December 21, 2022|IUCN

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought widespread public attention the very real risk of the transmission of dangerous new diseases from animal populations to humans. Yet among scientists and conservation experts, much debate remains on the exact nature and extent of the relationship between wildlife and emerging human pathogens. A report from IUCN provides an in-depth, evidence-based analysis of the origins, drivers, and risk factors of zoonotic disease transmission.

The report finds that the vast majority of animal-to-human disease transmission occurs due to human interaction with domesticated animals and via human disruption of natural landscapes. While direct transmission from wildlife is relatively rare, evidence suggests deforestation and the growing illegal wildlife trade can increase this risk, though more research is needed for a full understanding of this relationship.