First Estimate of Total Viruses in Mammals
Scientists estimate that there is a minimum of 320,000 viruses in mammals awaiting discovery. Collecting evidence of these viruses, or even a majority of them, they say, could provide information critical to early detection and mitigation of disease outbreaks in humans. This undertaking would cost approximately $6.3 billion, or $1.4 billion if limited to 85% of total viral diversity—a fraction of the economic impact of a major pandemic like SARS.
Close to 70% of emerging viral diseases such as HIV/AIDS, West Nile, Ebola, SARS, and influenza, are zoonoses—infections of animals that cross into humans. Yet until now, there has been no good estimate of the actual number of viruses that exist in any wildlife species.
Image: Ebola virus virion
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