The Human/Animal Interface: Emergence and Resurgence of Zoonotic Infectious Diseases

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The Human/Animal Interface: Emergence and Resurgence of Zoonotic Infectious Diseases

By Michael Greger, M.D., Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture in the farm animal welfare division of The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).

PDF of the complete report.

Ed. Notes:

  • Zoonotic: a disease communicable from animals to humans

  • In short, this article presents evidence of the relationship between human disease and animal agriculture

Emerging infectious diseases, most of which are considered
zoonotic in origin, continue to exact a significant toll on society. The origins of major human infectious diseases are reviewed and the factors underlying disease emergence explored. Anthropogenic changes, largely in land use and agriculture, are implicated in the apparent increased frequency of emergence and reemergence of zoonoses in recent decades. Special emphasis is placed on the pathogen with likely the greatest zoonotic potential,
influenzavirusA(McLeodetal.2005).

Although there are likely "heirloom" pathogens with which we eco-evolved throughout the evolutionary chain from Homo to Homo sapiens, most modern human infectious diseases may have been unknown to our hunter and gatherer ancestors. From the Pleistocene Epoch until fewer than 11,000 years ago, the human population is thought to have existed as small, nomadic groups of a size and density that precluded the existence of short-lived, immunizing, human-specific infections, a proposal strongly put forth by Burnet and later supported by increasingly complex mathematical modeling.

For the complete report, go here for the PDF.

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