Azara Blog: There are allegedly more infectious diseases emerging now

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Date published: 2006/02/20

The BBC says:

New infectious diseases are now emerging at an exceptional rate, scientists have told a leading conference in St Louis, US.

Humans are accumulating new pathogens at a rate of one per year, they said.

This meant that agencies and governments would have to work harder than ever before to keep on top of the threat, one expert told the BBC.

Most of these new infectious diseases, such as avian influenza and HIV/Aids, are coming from other animals.

"This accumulation of new pathogens has been going on for millennia - this is how we acquired TB, malaria, smallpox," said Professor Mark Woolhouse, an epidemiologist at the University Of Edinburgh, UK.

"But at the moment, this accumulation does seem to be happening very fast.

"So it seems there is something special about modern times - these are good times for pathogens to be invading the human population."
Changes in land use through, for example, deforestation can bring humans into contact with new pathogens; and, likewise, agricultural changes, such as the use of exotic livestock.

Other important drivers include global travel, global trade and hospitalisation.

Hmmm, how about human population size being an important factor. But it seems unfashionable to ever mention that there are too many people on the planet. Instead we have to mention all the pet hates of the so-called environmentalists (e.g. deforestation, global travel and global trade). (Which of course could also be factors.)

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