Earth Science News  





. Emerging Infectious Diseases On The Rise

Global richness map of the geographic origins of EID events from 1940 to 2004. The map is derived for EID events caused by all pathogen types. Circles represent one degree grid cells, and the area of the circle is proportional to the number of events in the cell. Credit: Jones et. al., Nature
by Staff Writers
Athens GA (SPX) Feb 21, 2008
It's not just your imagination. Providing the first-ever definitive proof, a team of scientists has shown that emerging infectious diseases such as HIV, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), West Nile virus and Ebola are indeed on the rise. The team - including University of Georgia professor John Gittleman and scientists from the Consortium for Conservation Medicine, the Institute of Zoology (London) and Columbia University - recently published their findings in leading scientific journal Nature.

By analyzing 335 incidents of previous disease emergence beginning in 1940, the study has determined that zoonoses - diseases that originate in animals - are the current and most important threat in causing new diseases to emerge. And most of these, including SARS and the Ebola virus, originated in wildlife. Antibiotic drug resistance has been cited as another culprit, leading to diseases such as extremely drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR TB).

The scientists also found that more new diseases emerged in the 1980s than any other decade, "likely due to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, which led to a range of other new diseases in people," said Mark Levy, deputy director of the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESN) at Columbia University.

But this team did not stop with determining the causes and origins of emerging infectious diseases; they took it a step further. To help predict and prevent future attacks, sophisticated computer models were used to help design a global map of emerging disease hotspots.

"This is a seminal moment in how we study emerging diseases," said Gittleman, dean of the Odum School of Ecology, who developed the approach used in analyzing the global database. "Our study has shown that bringing ecological sciences and public health together can advance the field in a dramatic way."

Over the last three decades, billions of research dollars were unsuccessfully spent to try to explain the seemingly random patterns of infectious disease emergence and spread. Finally, this research gives the first insight about where future outbreaks may occur - and next up is likely the Tropics, a region rich in wildlife species and under increasing human pressure.

"Emerging disease hotspots are more common in areas rich in wildlife, so protecting these regions from development may have added value in preventing future disease emergence," said Kate Jones, Senior Research Fellow of the Institute of Zoology.

Emerging diseases have caused devastating effects internationally, with millions infected and billions spent. Some diseases have become pandemic, spreading from one continent to another causing massive mortality rates and affecting global economies and livelihoods.

"This work by John and his collaborators is absolutely first rate, as evidenced by its publication in one of the world's foremost scientific journals," said UGA Vice President for Research David Lee. "It brings novel insights and perspective to the fight against global diseases and illustrates the tremendous potential of this new field of disease ecology. It is vital that we better understand how environmental factors, including man's activities, affect the spread of infectious diseases."

But knowing where the next outbreak is and understanding the reason for its occurrence does not alleviate the entire issue.

"The problem is, most of our resources are focused on the richer countries in the North that can afford surveillance - this is basically a misallocation of global health funding and our priority should be to set up 'smart surveillance' measures in these hotspots, most of which are in developing countries," said Peter Daszak, executive director of the Consortium for Conservation Medicine. "If we continue to ignore this important preventative measure then human populations will continue to be at risk from pandemic diseases."

Community
Email This Article
Comment On This Article

Related Links
University of Georgia
Epidemics on Earth - Bird Flu, HIV/AIDS, Ebola




Tempur-Pedic Mattress Comparison

Newsletters :: SpaceDaily Express :: SpaceWar Express :: TerraDaily Express :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News
China reports bird flu outbreak in Tibet, human death
Beijing (AFP) Feb 19, 2008
Chinese authorities on Tuesday reported a fresh bird flu outbreak among poultry in Tibet, a day after confirming a 22-year-old man in central China had died of the deadly virus.

.
Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
  



  • Thousands of Hong Kong factories in China may close: report
  • Trailers given to US disaster victims unsafe: CDC
  • 911 Calls Offer Potential Early Warning System
  • Robotic Rats To Aid In Rescue Missions

  • Living Corals Thousands Of Years Old Hold Clues To Past Climate Changes
  • Beavers Can Help Ease Drought
  • Japan doubts climate pledges by US candidates
  • Nitrous Oxide: Definitely No Laughing Matter

  • NASA Extends Mission For Ball Aerospace-Built ICESat
  • CIRA Scientist Among Authors Of Book Celebrating 50 Years Of Earth Observations From Space
  • Indonesia To Develop New EO Satellite
  • Russia To Launch Space Project To Monitor The Arctic In 2010

  • UNEP calls for end to barriers on fast-growing "green economy"
  • Drilling For Science And Exploration
  • New Aluminum-Rich Alloy Produces Hydrogen On-Demand For Large-Scale Uses
  • Global Biopact On Biofuels Can Bring Benefits To Both Rich And Poor Nations

  • Emerging Infectious Diseases On The Rise
  • 72 dead as cholera follows floods in Mozambique
  • China reports bird flu outbreak in Tibet, human death
  • Deadly bird flu strain confirmed in Hong Kong

  • New Method For Measuring Biodiversity
  • Unveiling The Underwater Ways Of The White Shark
  • Ancient Mystery Solved
  • Giant Frog Jumps Continents

  • Turtle Studies Suggest Health Risks From Environmental Contaminants
  • Fish Devastated By Sex-Changing Chemicals In Municipal Wastewater
  • Shipping emissions three times as much as estimated
  • Heavy Manufacturing, Steel, And Coal-Fired Power Stations To Close For 2008 Summer Olympics

  • Ancient Out Of Africa Migration Left Stamp On European Genetic Diversity
  • Human Culture Subject To Natural Selection
  • No Easy Answers In Evolution Of Human Language
  • Scientist Postulates 4 Aspects Of Humaniqueness Differentiating Human And Animal Cognition

  • The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2007 - SpaceDaily.AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement