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Preventing pandemics by leaving bats undisturbed

As the COVID-19 pandemic slowly subsides, Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) experts and colleagues from the Wildlife Conservation Society have partnered on a new analysis in The Lancet Planetary Health focused on how such surges in deaths, illness, and suffering – as well as their economic costs – can be prevented in the future. One basic solution, the authors argue, may lie in a global taboo against harming or disturbing bats and their habitats.

“Focusing resources solely on efforts to address pandemics once they have already been unleashed, as most so-called prevention plans being developed by WHO and other global organizations currently seem to do, naively ignores the fact that humanity’s broken relationship with wild nature is how things got to this point in the first place,” said Steve Osofsky, D.V.M. ’89, Jay Hyman Professor of Wildlife Health & Health Policy and lead author of the paper.

Instead, the co-authors look farther upstream, to the interface between humans and wildlife where dangerous viruses can be transmitted when people eat the body parts of wild animals, capture and mix wild species together in markets for sale, and expand activities into what is left of Earth’s wilderness.

Read the full story on the College of Veterinary Medicine website.

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