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Ecology of Infectious Disease

ttruong's picture

The rise in emergence and re-emergence of infectious diseases in humans and wilfire is directly linked to environmental changes such as deforestation, climate change, and, among other factors, illegal wildlife trading. Over the last three decades the World Health Organization has recorded over 40 diseases, including HIV/AIDS, SARS, dengue fever, and West Nile virus, that have resulted from direct of indirect human activities.

Because of this newly recognized relationship between environmental change and infectious diseases, scientists can no longer simply study infectious diseases through the microscopic perspectives of microbiologists and physicians; they must also consult the megascopic views of ecologists. Infectious diseases are not confined to understanding the infected organism or species, as they exist in an ecological context as well.



1. Various factors leading to emergence of infectious diseases: hunting and deforestation, climate change, and illegal wildlife trading.

2. The counter argument: Ecologists questions effects of climate change on infectious diseases.

3. Infectious diseases exist in an ecological context.


jrieders's picture

Climate Change

I was wondering about the shift in climate that would result in a shift of Southern disease patterns to Northern areas, would that also potentially cause the emergence of new disease in the Southern areas, so that there might be two new emergence events?

ttruong's picture

I completely agree. The once

I completely agree. The once cool areas will become warmer and acquire warm climate diseases like malaria, while the previously warm areas will become even warmer and dryer and acquire meningitis. This is a possible scenario. However, these disease might not continue to produce the same effects and behave in the same way as they move with the climates shifts, because they are encountering different human-hosts, whose genetic make-up is slightly different in relation to the disease, and different animal-hosts as well. The climates and the movement of disease might move faster than our human populations can adapt naturally or medicinally.