Despite their notoriety for harboring contagious illnesses, rats and other city-dwellers don’t carry any more pathogens than their countryside counterparts, according to a recent research.
Researchers suggest urban animals’ image as illness carriers is largely exaggerated due to sampling bias’ when assessing for infectious viruses. Scientists now believe that urban animals may not be as dangerous as previously believed in the event of a pandemic.
Rats, foxes, badgers, as well as raccoons, are examples of urban-adapted animal groups that were contrasted to others that couldn’t survive in urban areas. Urban animals are much more likely to host illnesses because of their diet, physiological functions, and closeness to people, among other factors.
Urban species do definitely host more illnesses than non-urban animals, but the explanations for this seem to be primarily a result of the method they investigate disease dynamics. Increasingly, they’ve been focusing on wildlife in modern cities, which has led to an increase in the number of parasites they’ve detected.
Species such as rats, foxes, as well as pigeons have long been accused of making cities an ideal breeding ground for disease. The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has inspired considerable curiosity about where potential epidemics of infections are most likely to emerge — as well as in other viruses.
Scientists conducted a new investigation to see whether creatures that have adjusted to city life had unique infections. Diseases found in well almost 3,000 mammal species were found to be 10 times more prevalent in urban-adapted animals, especially in comparison to those that didn’t adhere to urban life.
Nevertheless, they discovered that this trend was due in part to sample bias and that animals that have adapted to urban environments have been investigated about 100 times more thoroughly.