Could Deforestation Spread Ebola?
Deforestation causes bats to find habitats amongst humans, and is a likely cause of increased contact.
The Ebola outbreak has caused more than a thousand deaths in such a short time span and these tolls have no sign of stopping anytime soon.
The terror of infection is widespread and as much as people want to create a cure, just as many people want to know how the disease came to prominence so quickly in the first place.
Human contact with bats is considered the most likely cause of the outbreak, according to an article published by Vox. Contact with the animal's blood was likely during an attempt to kill an infected bat for its meat.
"The disease then traveled from humans to humans. One possible conduit is through certain funeral rites in which dead bodies are washed by hand, notes John Snow, an epidemiologist at Columbia University," according to Vox.
This idea is very possible, but there are other reasons that could also account for the spread of the disease: deforestation. It has been acknowledged that human contact with bats is most likely the the main cause of the outbreak, but this could also be due to the increased deforestation in Western Africa and, therefore, close contact with infected bats.
"Human activity is driving bats to find new habitats amongst human populations. More than half of Liberia's forests — home to 40 endangered species, including the western chimpanzee — have been sold off to industrial loggers during President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's post-war government, according to figures released by Global Witness," Vox states on their website.
Countries in Western Africa where the current Ebola outbreak began such as Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone have some of the most intense rates of deforestation in the world. An Ebola outbreak like this one could turn into something far worse in the future if deforestation rates aren't decreased immediately.
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