It’s Lima, Peru – A young man’s bones are aching with pain, a high fever along with headaches take over his body. Deep in the Bolivian Amazon the 22-year-old farmer from the village Samuzabeti dies.
Amid analyzing samples from the young male, the doctors identify a rather strange Ebola-like illness a previously unknown member of the arenavirus family. This virus has been keyed the Chapter virus. It was named after the strong coca that grows in the Samuzabet region where the virus was initially located.
This is worth mentioning when we consider the current climate around our health. Even as COVID-19 rampages and reeks havoc globally, the Amazon has managed to stay under the radar. The science community as well as medical community are focusing on potential pathogens in both Asia and Africa, while greatly underestimating the distant factor of the Amazon rainforest.
The Amazon has a unique ecosystem that differs from other parts of the world, frontiers sprawl between deforested land and the surviving jungle. A lot of the natives live next to some of these damaged ecosystems carved out of a dense vegetation or clearing scattered around the fields. With less natural resources available, the surviving wild life migrate together and rub shoulders in a form unheard of anywhere else in the world.
One of the main reasons the medical and science community haven’t come together on the matter is due to the expense of avoiding these risks in the Amazon and the tropics. Some researchers have calculated that reducing deforestation as required, setting up a proper zoonotic early warning system while setting better standards for farming and crack down on illegal trafficking of wild life could cost upwards of $18 billion per year. This may sound like a lot, but considering that COVID-19 is on the run to cost us approximately $5 trillion just in 2020, our financial interests should be steered in a better direction and based on facts rather than feelings.