Public Health Resources


Date of this Version



Published in New Directions in Conservation Medicine: Applied Cases in Ecological Health, edited by A. Alonso Aguirre, Richard S. Ostfield, and Peter Daszak (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012).


U.S. Government Work


Emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) pose a significant threat to human health, global economies, and conservation (Smolinski et al. 2003). They are defined as diseases that have recently increased in incidence (rate of the development of new cases during a given time period), are caused by pathogens that recently moved from one host population to another, have recently evolved, or have recently exhibited a change in pathogenesis (Morse 1993; Krause 1994). Some EIDs threaten global public health through pandemics with large-scale mortality (e.g., HN/AIDS). Others cause smaller outbreaks but have high case fatality ratios or lack effective therapies or vaccines (e.g. Ebola virus or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). As a group, EIDs cause hundreds of thousands of deaths each year, and some outbreaks (e.g., SARS, H5N1) have cost the global economy tens of billions of dollars. Emerging diseases also affect plants, livestock, and wildlife and are recognized as a Significant threat to the conservation of biodiversity (Daszak et al. 2000). Approximately 60% of emerging human disease events are zoonotic, and over 75% of these diseases originate in wildlife (Jones et al. 2008). The global response to such epidemics is frequently reactive, and the effectiveness of conventional disease control operations is often "too little, too late': With rising globalization, the ease with which diseases spread globally has increased dramatically in recent times. Also, interactions between humans and wildlife have intensified through trade markets, agricultural intensification, logging and mining, and other forms of development that encroach into wild areas. Rapid human population growth, land use change, and change in global trade and travel require a shift toward a proactive, predictive, and preventive approaches for the next zoonotic pandemic.