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.
…And if the plague doesn’t get you, the SNAKES will
DEADLY snakes that can kill a man with just ONE bite could soon be breeding in the UK – thanks to sloppy Indian workers.
Experts say the fact that two saw-scaled VIPERS have been found here within a week means we’re sitting on a timebomb. Grandmother Kath Forster spotted one curled beneath a box of Indian garden slates on her driveway in Dronfield, Derbyshire. She calmly picked it up with ice cube tongs and trapped it in a box of Celebrations chocolates – unaware of the big risk she had taken. Mrs Forster, 57, said: “Its tongue was out but I didn’t really look at it. We put the lid on the box but the box started moving. I wasn’t scared.”
But experts warn it is only a matter of time before someone is badly injured or KILLED because the authorities in India are not checking their shipments. Reptile handler John Bent, who collected the viper, said: “A saw-scaled viper is like a loaded gun. We put it in a tank and it was striking the glass to get at me.” Another viper was found last week at Tilbury Docks in Essex on a ship container that arrived from India. Mr Bent added: “This is a timebomb. They are getting through and if they colonise here we’re in deep trouble.”