Zoonotic viruses, many originating in wild mammals, pose a serious threat to global public health. Peter Daszak and colleagues create a comprehensive database of mammalian host–virus relationships, which they analyse to determine patterns of virus and zoonotic virus distribution in mammals. They identify various factors that influence the number and diversity of viruses that infect a given species as well as factors that predict the proportion of zoonotic viruses per species. In doing so, they identify mammalian species and geographic locations where novel zoonoses are likely to be found.
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