Emerging Disease Problem to Worsen

Posted on November 30, 2005

Science Daily reports that Dr Andrew Cunningham has warned in the British Medical Journal that the problem of emerging diseases like SARS, Ebola and the West Nile Virus is likely to worsen.

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.

As humans continue to dig deeper into the jungles and other less traveled areas of the globe it seems likely that it is just a matter of time before we encounter another ebola or SARS type of virus. Hopefully, we will be able to stop it fairly quickly like we were with SARS -- thanks to the hard work of scientists from the WHO.

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