Emergence/Re-emergence of Infectious Agents and Epidemic Risks in Central African Forests

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The years 2020–2021 will always be marked by the COVID-19 crisis. This pandemic was triggered by the coronavirus SARSCoV-2, which broke the species barrier between a (still unknown) wildlife species and humans, somewhere in China in 2019 (Andersen et al. 2020). Above and beyond the number of deaths directly caused by COVID-19, this crisis will have an impact on our societies over the long term. Yet, this pandemic is not the first of its kind in modern times. The 2014–2016 Ebola virus disease epidemic in West Africa (and its resurgence in 2021) has also been a major warning sign of the threat posed by the transfer of a pathogen from wildlife to human populations (Heymann et al. 2015). A long list of emerging animal pathogens has already threatened to reach – or succeeded in reaching – epidemic or pandemic proportions after interspecies transmission (known as “spillover”). These include HIV, SARS-CoV-1, MERS-CoV, Nipah virus and Rift Valley fever.

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