Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Biodiversity loss correlates with increases in infectious disease

From the December 1, 2010 Eureka news alert

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Habitat destruction and species extinction may lead to an increase in diseases that infect humans and other species, according to a paper in the journal Nature co-authored by a University of Florida ecologist.

In the paper to be published Thursday, UF biology professor Robert D. Holt and his colleagues reported that by reviewing studies from a wide range of systems, including data from plants, animals and bacteria, they were able to relate dimensions of environmental loss, and in particular species loss, with incidence of infectious disease. The study –- which was led by biologist Felicia Keesing of Bard College –- focused on diseases on the rise, such as West Nile virus, Lyme disease and Hantavirus.

“The general degradation of biodiversity because of land use transformation, combined with climate change, overharvesting, and so forth, is likely to have many perverse consequences for emerging pathogens,” said Holt, a UF Eminent Scholar associated with the Emerging Pathogens Institute. “You have to think both as an ecologist and an infectious disease specialist to grapple with questions like this.”

Some pathogens can flourish under less biologically diverse conditions, such as in areas where top predators or other key species become extinct…

December 2, 2010 - Posted by | Consumer Health, Uncategorized | , ,



    A Systems Approach in Understanding Tick-Borne Diseases: People, Animals, and the Ecosystem
    Richard Ostfeld, Ph.D. Disease Ecologist
    Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies

    ‘We live in an age of emerging infectious diseases. A recent study by Jones et al demonstrates that no fewer than 335 new infectious diseases of humans have emerged since 1940.

    Of those Infectious Diseases about 60% of them are Zoonotic, meaning that the pathogen replicates within and is transmitted from non humans vertebrate species to humans.

    Of these Zoonotic diseases about 72% are from wildlife with the remainder coming from domestic animals of various kinds.

    Fully 30% of the newly emerging diseases are vector borne including most of the Tick borne diseases we will be talking about today and tomorrow and throughout the 20th Centuray and into the 21st Century the rate of emergence of new Infectious Diseases of humans has increased.’

    The above were the opening remarks by Richard Ostfeld at A Workshop on the Critical Needs and Gaps in Understanding Prevention, Amelioration, and Resolution of Lyme and Other Tick-borne Diseases: the Short-Term and Long-Term

    To view and listen to the whole presentation

    Wake up Lyme Disease is already a Health problem Worldwide but is being swept under the radar leaving many patients floundering.

    Comment by Joanne | December 2, 2010 | Reply

    • Thank you very, very much for the information…and the link to the whole presentation. I had no idea that most new infectious diseases were zoonotic…wondering if this has anything to do with habitat destruction, and the non human vertebrate species being increasingly crowded together, which aids the transmission of vectors among vertebrates…

      Comment by Janice Flahiff | December 3, 2010 | Reply

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