Thursday, February 28, 2008

First worldwide public health analysis says India is in trouble


I found this cool article about one of the first (the first?) worldwide public health study that looks at infectious disease outbreak regions. They studied past outbreaks and where they occurred from all over. We know that zoonotic jumps/recombinations are most likely to cause 'new' diseases, or epidemics. They found that the regions that had high population density, warm climate, and wildlife bio-diversity were the regions that were most vulnerable to new outbreaks of infectious disease. This makes India and China especially vulnerable countries!

Not surprisingly, they found that, "The study has indicated that disease surveillance resources are misallocated, with the best efforts limited to rich countries." (DUH!) I personally really appreciated this global study because its looking at the world as a whole--like maybe the rich countries actually have a real obligation to watch out for the poorer countries. 20 years ago (not that I knew anything back then) this would be been out of the question. Maybe we're all moving in a better direction?

Quoted from the study:

An international research team analysed 335 outbreaks of new infections over the past six decades and found that more than 60 per cent were zoonotic diseases, caused by microorganisms jumping from animals, mostly those in the wild, into humans.

These include HIV from chimpanzees, the deadly Ebola virus from fruit bats, the West Nile virus from common sparrows and avian influenza (H5N1 virus) from wild ducks.

“We found infectious diseases strongly linked to human population density, changes in population, rainfall, and wildlife bio-diversity,” said Kate Jones, a team member and research fellow at the Zoological Society of London. “These links allow us to predict where future outbreaks are most likely to occur,” Jones told The Telegraph.

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