Assessing the risk of human-to-wildlife pathogen transmission for conservation and public health.
The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has led to increased concern over transmission of pathogens from humans to animals, and its potential to threaten conservation and public health. To assess this threat, we reviewed published evidence of human-to-wildlife transmission events, with a focus on how such events could threaten animal and human health. We identified 97 verified examples, involving a wide range of pathogens; however, reported hosts were mostly non-human primates or large, long-lived captive animals. Relatively few documented examples resulted in morbidity and mortality, and very few led to maintenance of a human pathogen in a new reservoir or subsequent "secondary spillover" back into humans. We discuss limitations in the literature surrounding these phenomena, including strong evidence of sampling bias towards non-human primates and human-proximate mammals and the possibility of systematic bias against reporting human parasites in wildlife, both of which limit our ability to assess the risk of human-to-wildlife pathogen transmission. We outline how researchers can collect experimental and observational evidence that will expand our capacity for risk assessment for human-to-wildlife pathogen transmission.