An Insane Look At How Pathogens Travel Between Species

You share more with your lovable pet than you might think.

An Insane Look At How Pathogens Travel Between Species
[Top Image: Cynthia Goldsmith, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]

Pathogens–parasites, viruses, bacteria and fungi–might be invisible to the human eye, but they’re everywhere and affect every living thing. While humans generously share these infectious parasites with other humans, we get them from other species, too. According to a recent paper in Scientific Data, about three-fifths of human diseases are believed to have been initially passed along by animals.

So which species do we share the most pathogens with? A fascinating data visualization published with the study shows that the strongest connection is between humans and lifestock. On the map, the lines connecting the species show at least one shared pathogen, with thicker lines indicating a greater number. Species are represented by dots, and the bigger the dot the more unique pathogens that attack only that species (humans FTW?).

Unsurprisingly, domesticated animals like dogs, cats, cattle and pigs overlap the most, but reptiles, amphibians, fish and rodents figure in as well. Just another beautiful reminder that we’re all connected.

[via Wired]

About the author

Meg Miller is an associate editor at Co.Design covering art, technology, and design.



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