Spillover and pandemic properties of zoonotic viruses with high host plasticity

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Spillover and pandemic properties of zoonotic viruses with high host plasticity

Christine Kreuder Johnson, Peta L. Hitchens, Tierra Smiley Evans, Tracey Goldstein, Kate Thomas, Andrew Clements, Damien O. Joly, Nathan D. Wolfe, Peter Daszak, William B. Karesh & Jonna K. Mazet

Publication Link

This study examines factors influencing viral spillover into humans.  

Key Findings 

  • Wildlife, such as bats, rodents, and primates, are the transmission source for 91% of zoonotic viruses 
  • Domesticated animals are the source for 34% of zoonotic viruses in humans 
  • The likelihood of a spillover event is positively associated with the number of taxonomic orders (i.e. bats, primates, rodents) a virus infects (host plasticity)  
  • Zoonotic viruses are more likely to be transmittable between humans if they are transmitted at human-wildlife interfaces, such as during bushmeat hunting and consumption 

Informing Action  

Understanding factors that influence viral spillover can immediately inform interventions and policies that reduce spillover risk, such as behavior change resource materials like the “Living Safely with Bats” book produced and used by PREDICT countries. 

Key Definition: Host Plasticity - the ability of a virus to infect a diverse range of hosts, such as bats, rodents, and primates 

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