Source: University of Liverpool, ScienceDaily, 25 June 2021, photo credit: The BMJ
A new University of Liverpool study could help scientists mitigate the future spread of zoonotic and livestock diseases caused by existing viruses.
Researchers have used a form or artificial intelligence (AI) called machine-learning to predict more than 20,000 unknown associations between known viruses and susceptible mammalian species. The findings, which are published in Nature Communications, could be used to help target disease surveillance programmes.
Thousands of viruses are known to affect mammals, with recent estimates indicating that less than 1% of mammalian viral diversity has been discovered to date. Some of these viruses such as human and feline immunodeficiency viruses have a very narrow host range, whereas others such as rabies and West Nile viruses have very wide host ranges.
“Host range is an important predictor of whether a virus is zoonotic and therefore poses a risk to humans. Most recently, SARS-CoV-2 has been found to have a relatively broad host range which may have facilitated its spill-over to humans. However, our knowledge of the host range of most viruses remains limited,” explains lead researcher Dr Maya Wardeh from the University’s Institute of Infection, Veterinary and Ecological Sciences.
The South African Pork Producers’ Organisation (SAPPO) coordinates industry interventions and collaboratively manages risks in the value chain to enable the sustainability and profitability of pork producers in South Africa.