An update on the Mosquito Fire burning in Placer and El Dorado counties. Researchers at UC Davis are creating a tool to help scientists determine which viruses have the greatest risk of transferring from animals to humans to anticipate the next pandemic. Former Insight fill-in host David Watts Barton releases a new album, “Pilgrim.”
The Mosquito fire is the latest wildfire to consume Northern California and currently sits at over 46 thousand acres burned with just 10 percent containment. The fire has forced over 11,000 residents to evacuate in the communities of Foresthill and Todd Valley in Placer Country, Georgetown, Bottle Hill, and Volcanoville in El Dorado County. Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for Placer and El Dorado Counties. The hope is with additional federal resources, CalFire and assisting agencies can get a hold of the wildfire, which continues to expand. Christopher Vestal, Battalion Chief for the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District, joins Insight to provide the latest details on the fire and the challenges that exist for firefighters.
For millennia, animals, both wild and domestic, have provided humans with a seemingly endless number of benefits, from food to livelihood, education, transportation, and even emotional support. But this relationship also opens us up to zoonotic diseases, which can spill over from animals to humans. According to the CDC, 75% of new or emerging infectious diseases come from animals. The most notable example is COVID-19. Although officially, the origin hasn’t been identified, scientists strongly believed the virus originated and evolved from an animal before jumping over to humans. Although zoonotic diseases are known and very common, what’s been difficult over the years is assessing the likelihood of spilling over to humans and, ultimately, the risk of becoming a pandemic. That’s now about to change. Using artificial intelligence, researchers at UC Davis have created a new tool to better understand these emerging viruses and prioritize which ones pose the greatest risk of jumping from animals to us with the goal of better preparing for future pandemics. Dr. Pranav Pandit, a Veterinary Epidemiologist at UC Davis and the lead researcher on the project, joined Insight to discuss this new tool.