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Problem Of Emerging Infectious Diseases Likely To Worsen

Date:
November 24, 2005
Source:
BMJ-British Medical Journal
Summary:
Emerging infectious diseases pose a global threat to human and animal health, and the problem is likely to worsen, warns an expert in this week's British Medical Journal. The recent emergence of diseases, such as AIDS, SARS and avian flu, have catapulted emerging infectious diseases to the top of the medical and political agendas, and have highlighted the importance of wildlife as reservoirs or vectors for disease, writes Dr Andrew Cunningham.

Emerging infectious diseases pose a global threat to human and animal health, and the problem is likely to worsen, warns an expert in this week's British Medical Journal.

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The recent emergence of diseases, such as AIDS, SARS and avian flu, have catapulted emerging infectious diseases to the top of the medical and political agendas, and have highlighted the importance of wildlife as reservoirs or vectors for disease, writes Dr Andrew Cunningham.

Of pathogens causing emerging infectious diseases, 75% are zoonotic (able to transmit from animals to humans), with wildlife being an increasingly important source.

But why are we now seeing an apparently rapid increase in the emergence of new zoonoses from wildlife?

One of the major drivers is closer human contact with wildlife, primarily caused by human encroachment into, and modification of, wildlife habitat. For example, Ebola virus outbreaks often are linked to hunting for "bushmeat" or to mining development, and the AIDS pandemic originated from human encroachment into African forests for food.

The rise in international trade and travel is also important. The emergence of West Nile virus in North America, and AIDS and SARS globally, for example, arose from such travel and trade.

This globalisation of people and products is difficult to control and is largely related to increasing air transportation. With world air travel expected to grow at about 5% a year for at least the next 20 years, the problem of emerging infectious diseases will continue to grow, he warns.

Emerging infectious diseases are not only a problem for human health but are a major threat to animal welfare and to species conservation. Some emerging infectious diseases also threaten domesticated species.

Through emerging infectious diseases, therefore, the medical, veterinary, and wildlife conservation professions, share a common agenda. The problem is not small, and tackling it will not be easy, but recognising a common problem is, at least, a start, he concludes.

###

Editorial: A walk on the wild side -- emerging wildlife diseases BMJ Volume 331, pp 1214-5


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by BMJ-British Medical Journal. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

BMJ-British Medical Journal. "Problem Of Emerging Infectious Diseases Likely To Worsen." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 November 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/11/051124215928.htm>.
BMJ-British Medical Journal. (2005, November 24). Problem Of Emerging Infectious Diseases Likely To Worsen. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/11/051124215928.htm
BMJ-British Medical Journal. "Problem Of Emerging Infectious Diseases Likely To Worsen." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/11/051124215928.htm (accessed October 30, 2014).

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