Swine flu, Ebola, SARS and now Covid-19 - all these infectious diseases have their origin in the animal kingdom, are so-called zoonoses. But how is it that pathogens cross the species barrier and jump from animals to humans?
Scientific studies show that humans and their lifestyles play a major role in the development of new pandemics. Environmental destruction, climate change, globalisation, increasing population density, the consumption of wild animal meat and intensive animal husbandry, for example, facilitate the development of zoonoses.
Originally, humans and animals lived peacefully together with a whole range of pathogens to which they adapted in the course of their evolution. But disturbed environmental conditions open up ever new possibilities for contact and transmission.
For Prof. Simone Sommer, expert on zoonoses, it is clear that species, environmental and also climate protection must be given higher priority - not least in the interest of our own health.
Sommer is director of the Institute for Evolutionary Ecology and Conservation Genomics at the University of Ulm. Research stays have already taken her to Madagascar, Namibia, South Africa, the USA, Brazil and Panama.
As part of the International Science Festival - Geist Heidelberg
The Origin of Zoonoses
How do environmental changes influence animal and human health?