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Posted Tue May 17 2011: from Wired Science:
Lethal Hendra Virus Outbreaks May Be Caused by Man
By making flying-fox populations sedentary, stressed and fragmented, development might have also made them prone to viral spikes. Hendra's spread in people may be, in a sense, a man-made disaster. "We're now seeing more evidence that human-induced environmental changes may be driving this disease," said Raina Plowright, a disease ecologist at Pennsylvania State University. "That's something that's been proposed many times, but few people have been able to show a mechanism. Here's a mechanism."... "We've essentially created a situation in which flying foxes are more likely to undergo these massive epidemics that lead to spillover events," said disease ecologist Richard Ostfeld of the Cary Institute for Ecosystem Studies, who wasn't involved in the study. "In the flying foxes, it doesn't appear to cause terrible sickness. It may have co-evolved with them to be relatively benign. But all bets are off when the virus reaches a spillover host." Adding to the problem are the immediate physical stresses of habitat loss and weather extremes that have become normal in Australia. Just as stressed humans are more vulnerable to infection, so are flying foxes.
[Read more stories about: habitat loss, anthropogenic change]

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'Doc Jim says:
The evidence builds that "anthropogenic" is now nearly globally applicable.

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