There is considerable agreement amongst epidemiologists, human and wildlife health professionals for a policy of ONE HEALTH – the collaborative efforts of multiple disciplines working locally, nationally, and globally to attain optimal health for people, animals, plants and our environment.
“From a paper by Andrew Breed, Hume Field, Jonathan Epstein and Peter Dalzak ‘Emerging henipaviruses and flying foxes – Conservation and management persepctives’
Outbreaks of previously unknown viral diseases with wildlife reservoir hosts are part of an important phenomenon for public health and conservation – disease emergence. Emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) are defined as diseases that have recently increased in incidence, impact or geographic range; have recently moved into new populations; or are caused by recently evolved pathogens. Like most infectious diseases, EIDs represent a complex interplay between host, environment and pathogen, and their emergence is usually multifactorial.
‘For example, burning huge areas of forest to make way for farmland is normally seen as an environmental and economic concern. That action may displace a wild animal species, which comes into contact with and infects a domesticated animal species, creating a veterinary problem. The domesticated animal then enters the human food chain and infects people, and a new health threat emerges.” (Wikipedia)
Why does it seem there has been a sudden emergence of infectious agents connected to bats? These viruses have coevolved with bats and circulated for thousands or even millions of years within bat populations. Only recently, as humans increasingly disrupt ecosystems especially through land clearing, have these agents reached a tipping point of spillover into new host species, including humans. Some, like Hendra virus, may have been infecting horses for some time but been mis-diagnosed, until horses began infecting humans.
Medieval myths and media-evil myths skew public perception of these infectious diseases. Understanding bat health and zoonoses helps to prevent the blaming of bats for diseases such as Coronavirus Covid-19.