Are new diseases occurring more frequently?

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Offline MrBassman

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Are new diseases occurring more frequently?
« on: 05/10/2005 21:07:49 »
We see media stories about new diseases quite often these days.
Mad Cow, SARS, Bird Flu, Black Head (turkey disease)...
They threaten humanity or a segment of our food supply.
If you look at it historically, are there more diseases
popping up these days or is it just the media that makes
us take notice?


Offline LeeE

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Are new diseases occurring more frequently?
« Reply #1 on: 03/07/2008 03:03:00 »
Most 'new' diseases probably aren't new, in an absolute sense, but just new to 'us'.

In most, if not all, infectious diseases there needs to be a natural reservoir for the disease pathogen, and in many cases this reservoir seems to have been, at least initially, geographically located i.e. the disease appears to have a geographic origin.  As humanity has increased in numbers it has lead to greater geographical spreading, which in turn, has lead to humans moving into new geographical regions and encountering the diseases.  At the same time, humanity has become more mobile, so once the disease has been encountered, this greater degree of mobility leads to the disease being exported away from the origin via infected humans and trade animals/goods.

Some Epidemiologists suspect that it is likely that there are still a number of as yet undiscovered disease reservoirs waiting to be encountered in regions that have remained largely unexplored i.e rain forests, and that further commercialisation and exploitation of the rain forests will eventually lead to encounters with these 'new' diseases.
...And its claws are as big as cups, and for some reason it's got a tremendous fear of stamps! And Mrs Doyle was telling me it's got magnets on its tail, so if you're made out of metal it can attach itself to you! And instead of a mouth it's got four arses!