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Diana Bell - University of East Anglia. Norwich, , GB

Diana Bell Diana Bell

Professor of Conservation Biology | University of East Anglia


Her research covers the risks from the trade in wildlife and how this leads to human disease.




Diana Bell is Professor of Conservation Biology in the School of Biological Sciences at UEA. Her research covers the risks from the trade in wildlife and how this leads to human disease. She has worked on the origins of the COVID-19 virus, the SARS virus, and the H5N1 (Asian bird flu) virus. More broadly, she is a conservation biologist with an interest in projects affecting many different wildlife species including (currently) hares, turtles, pink pigeons, and pangolins. She is running a citizen science project to explore the spread of a virus that has jumped from rabbits to hares and that is significantly increasing deaths among the 45 species of hare across the planet. She has also been looking at sustainable management of watershed habitats in very large cities – using Mexico City as a testbed.

Diana’s interests expand into all sorts of strategic planetary priorities related to climate change, biodiversity, over-exploitation of land, forests and water, farming, and increases in animal parasites. She is a long-serving member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Species Survival Commission, a Council Member of the World Land Trust, and a Director of Indo-Myanmar Conservation.

Areas of Expertise (5)

Wildlife Disease

Human Disease

Conservation Biology

Animal Parasites


Education (1)

Cardiff University: B.Sc., Zoology and Psychology

Media Appearances (7)

New China virus has 'disastrous' potential and UK MUST be vigilant - symptoms explained

Daily Express  


It's particularly worrying that this new virus appears to simply cause flu symptoms in humans, said Professor Diana Bell from the University of East Anglia, expert in emerging zoonotic diseases. But, to have more than one virus circulating among the public at the same time, that causes similar symptoms, would be "disastrous", Bell warned.

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Prof Diana Bel (BIO) interviewed about COVID-19 cases in the US

CNN Newsroom  


ALLEN: Let's talk about that with our guest, Diana Bell, an expert on emerging infectious diseases with the University of East Anglia. She joins me now from Norwich. Your reaction to the new policy, we were told to wear a mask and before we were told not to. Why the change now? DIANA BELL, EMERGING INFECTIOUS DISEASES EXPERT: Well, I think that's a sensible recommendation. I've been reading the literature, as it's been coming out on this. There was some compelling evidence yesterday. Interestingly, we haven't gotten the same recommendations in the U.K. But I've got masks. And I will be wearing them, when I go to visit the supermarket.

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Coronavirus: don’t abandon your cat because of unproven scientific research, experts say

South China Morning Post  


Diana Bell, a professor of conservation biology at the University of East Anglia in England, agreed with Cunningham that it was necessary for the method to be validated. “My concern would be the possibility of transmission from infected human cat owners to their pet cats rather than vice versa, and I would recommend precautionary mask-wearing/handwashing to prevent such cross-infection,” she said.

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Coronavirus latest news: First case diagnosed in Northern Ireland as UK total rises to 16

The Telegraph  


Professor Diana Bell, an expert in emerging zoonotic diseases from the University of East Anglia, has raised concerns that China's new measures may be inefficient as wild animal trade for medicinal purposes, fur farms and pet farms may still be allowed. “This is a major first step in terms of efforts to prevent future spill-over of new viruses from animals to humans.

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Coronavirus: The race to find the source in wildlife

BBC News  


While we may never know exactly how or where the disease responsible for many deaths made the leap into humans, Prof Diana Bell of the University of East Anglia says we can prevent another "perfect storm". "We are bringing together animals from different countries, different habitats, different lifestyles - in terms of aquatic animals, arboreal animals and so on - and mixing them together and it's a kind of melting pot - and we've got to stop doing it."

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China's animal trade to bring more viral outbreaks: experts

Daily Mail  


"For the sake of these wild species' future, and for human health, we need to reduce consumption of these wild animals," said Diana Bell, a wildlife disease and conservation biologist at University of East Anglia who has studied SARS, Ebola and other pathogens.

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Calls for global ban on wild animal markets amid coronavirus outbreak

The Guardian  


But the markets are operating again and are widespread across China, Vietnam and other parts of south-east Asia, said Prof Diana Bell from the University of East Anglia’s School of Biological Sciences. “There has been a long discussion among many stakeholders highlighting this risk,” she told the Guardian.

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Articles (5)

Metagenomic identification of a new sarbecovirus from horseshoe bats in Europe.

Scientific Reports

2021 The source of the COVID-19 pandemic is unknown, but the natural host of the progenitor sarbecovirus is thought to be Asian horseshoe (rhinolophid) bats. We identified and sequenced a novel sarbecovirus (RhGB01) from a British horseshoe bat, at the western extreme of the rhinolophid range. Our results extend both the geographic and species ranges of sarbecoviruses and suggest their presence throughout the horseshoe bat distribution.

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Improved subtyping affords better discrimination of Trichomonas gallinae strains and suggests hybrid lineages

Infection, Genetics and Evolution

2019 Trichomonas gallinae is a protozoan pathogen that causes avian trichomonosis typically associated with columbids (canker) and birds of prey (frounce) that predate on them, and has recently emerged as an important cause of passerine disease. An archived panel of DNA from North American (USA) birds used initially to establish the ITS ribotypes was reanalysed using Iron hydrogenase (FeHyd) gene sequences to provide an alphanumeric subtyping scheme with improved resolution for strain discrimination.

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Multi-locus analysis resolves the epidemic finch strain of Trichomonas gallinae and suggests introgression from divergent trichomonads

Genome Biology and Evolution

2019 In Europe, Trichomonas gallinae recently emerged as a cause of epidemic disease in songbirds. A clonal strain of the parasite, first found in the United Kingdom, has become the predominant strain there and spread to continental Europe. Discriminating this epidemic strain of T. gallinae from other strains necessitated development of multilocus sequence typing (MLST).

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Parallel adaptation of rabbit populations to myxoma virus


2019 In the 1950s the myxoma virus was released into European rabbit populations in Australia and Europe, decimating populations and resulting in the rapid evolution of resistance. We investigated the genetic basis of resistance by comparing the exomes of rabbits collected before and after the pandemic.

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Population constraints on the Grenada Dove Leptotila wellsi: preliminary findings and proposals from south-west Grenada

Bird Conservation International

2016 The Critically Endangered Grenada Dove Leptotila wellsi has a very small total population size (< 190 individuals) and faces multiple threats. Over eight weeks in 2012 at the Mount Hartman Estate, we investigated the dove’s habitat selection, established a mongoose index of occupancy and recorded dove use of water sources to help determine key research and conservation needs.

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