Climate change increases the risk of Arctic Virus Spillover. As humans destroy natural habitats, animals and humans are forced to live in close proximity. Global warming also shifts species’ ranges northward. This could have dramatic consequences in the High Arctic. It is important to consider the potential effects of climate change on animal and human health.
Cophylogenetic Relationships between Viruses and Hosts can be used to Quantify Spillover Risk
Cophylogenetic relationships between viruses and their hosts are a powerful tool for evaluating spillover risk from one ecosystem to another. By comparing the family trees of virus and host species, researchers were able to assess which species have a higher likelihood of spillover. When cophylogenetic relationships are positive, the viruses and hosts are more likely to share their genes, while when they are negative, they are less likely to share. Hence, the greater the difference between host and virus diversity, the greater the risk of spillover.
Cophylogenetic relationships between viruses and their hosts can be used to quantify spillover risk in a number of climate environments. Cophylogenetic relationships between hosts and viruses should be similar; otherwise, spillovers would result in incongruent phylogenies. Cophylogenetic incongruency between virus and host species can be determined using phylogenetic incongruency and knowledge of the range of each species.
A large number of viruses have one natural host. However, incomplete host restriction may lead to spillover to other species, resulting in epidemics. Such risks are challenging to estimate, especially in climate-changed environments. Researchers used metagenomics to assess the potential for spillovers using both soil and lake sediments from the High Arctic.
As the number of viruses circulating in the Arctic increases, so too can their spread risk. In the past, the number of host-virus relationships. Although many studies have reported the use of different analytical techniques, few have focused on aquatic viruses. It should be noted, however, that aquatic viruses are more vulnerable to local adaptation.
Glacier Melt Increases Risk of Spillover
Researchers from the University of Ottawa have found that glacial melt increases the risk of Arctic virus spillover. This may occur because the water from melting glaciers transports sediments from rivers into lakes, where viruses can be spread. As global temperatures increase, glaciers will grow larger, which will increase the amount of meltwater in these bodies of water.
The scientists studied the genomes of the viruses found in the run-off from glaciers. They found that the amount of these viruses increased with increased glacier melt, which is a proxy for climate change. The researchers noted that many viruses have spilled over from animals to humans, including SARS-CoV-2, which was most likely transferred from horseshoe bats and pangolins to humans.
The researchers also found genetic material of 33 viruses in ice samples from a glacier in Tibet. They calculated that these viruses were at least 15,000 years old. In addition, they found 27,000 potential virulence factors among the viruses. While the researchers are cautious about predicting the next pandemic, they do warn of the danger of a virulent spillover if the glaciers continue to melt.
The researchers also warned that melting glaciers in the Arctic may increase the risk of a viral pandemic. Virus spillover occurs when a virus infects a new host in a region of a new continent. They also warned that the risk of new viral outbreaks could increase if the Arctic reaches its pre-eminent climate status.
Impact of Climate Change on RNA Virus Transmission
Climate change may increase the chances of viruses spreading in the Arctic. As land and marine species migrate to cooler regions, they bring their viruses with them. It is estimated that at least 10,000 species of viruses can infect humans. However, most of these viruses are circulating silently among wild animals. As temperatures rise, the spread of viruses could increase.
One recent outbreak of anthrax in northern Siberia killed a child and infected seven others. It is unclear what caused the outbreak, but scientists believe that a combination of a heatwave and a carcass may have been the cause. The researchers have yet to determine how many previously unknown viruses might have spread, but the findings do point to an increased risk.
In the Arctic, the risk of spreading viruses has increased significantly in recent decades. Increasing temperatures in the region have resulted in the evolution of wildlife pathogens and parasites. Because the climate of the region varies greatly, these diseases can affect local populations and human health. This is especially true for the Arctic, where the temperature is rising twice as fast as any other part of the planet. Extremely warm summers in the Arctic could threaten local species and humans.
In the Arctic, the problem of climate change has also been attributed to human health. The Arctic Council has established a group called the International Circumpolar Surveillance of Emerging Infectious Diseases (ICESID), which connects public health laboratories and academic centers. This group aims to share information about disease risks and collaborate on research. The group has developed research working groups on viral hepatitis and Helicobacter pylorus.