Midweek Sport - - FRONT PAGE - By JUSTIN DUNN

JUN­GLES around the world con­tain killer viruses that could wipe out BIL­LIONS, an ex­pert has warned.

Deadly strains will cross from an­i­mals to hu­mans and spread due to our hunger for meat, ris­ing world pop­u­la­tion and ease of travel, warns Pro­fes­sor Nathan Wolfe.

He said: “Up to now we’ve been dodg­ing the bul­let but lurk­ing in the jun­gle are viruses that if they crossed over have the ca­pa­bil­ity to kill hun­dreds of mil­lions of us.

“In a world where for the first time in his­tory we can travel from the heart of the jun­gle to down­town Lon­don in lit­tle more than 24 hours, there’s an ever-in­creas­ing risk our luck is go­ing run out.”

Prof Wolfe, who runs Global Vi­ral Fore­cast­ing Inc, reck­ons the fur­ther we move away from our hunter-gatherer roots, the more vul­ner­a­ble we be­come to viruses we once could have fought.

He added: “Now, in a world of six bil­lion peo­ple, the po­ten­tial is to spread and spread, as peo­ple are the fuel for viruses.

“De­spite all the ef­forts of the pub­lic health au­thor­i­ties, swine flu still af­fected 10 per cent of the world pop­u­la­tion.


“If it had been a lit­tle more deadly it could have eas­ily killed mil­lions.

“With more and more peo­ple liv­ing in cities, if some­thing is go­ing to hap­pen it is more likely to hap­pen there.”

A likely sce­nario is that af­ter a world­wide pan­demic, a few sur­vivors will wan­der the earth, like Will Smith’s char­ac­ter in the 2007 block­buster I Am Leg­end.

Fu­ture pan­demics are likely to be caused by a “tra­di­tional nasty” like cholera – which still kills mil­lions around the world – rather than Ebola, a con­ta­gious virus for which there is no known cure.

Even so, an out­break of Ebola, which causes mas­sive bleed­ing, killed 53 in Ger­many last year.

There is also con­cern about a new strain of bird flu that has been claim­ing lives in In­done­sia.

Top vi­rol­o­gist Prof Robert G Web­ster, from the St Jude Chil­dren’s Re­search Hospi­tal in Mem­phis, says the pop­u­la­tion is un­der con­stant in­vis­i­ble threat.

He said it may take some time but “com­pletely novel viruses” will cross over from the “wild reser­voir”.

“If we keep cre­at­ing huge chicken, tur­key and pig farms, which are nurs­eries of viruses, then such an in­crease will grow in­evitable,” he warned.

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