Lancet addresses emerging infectious vector-borne diseases

A recent series of articles warns that human activities are advancing the spread of vector-borne zoonotic diseases. The articles, published in the medical journal The Lancet, show how widespread changes in land-use, the globalization of trade and travel and social upheaval a driving the emergence of zoonotic throughout the world. Vector-borne zoonotic diseases are those that naturally infect wildlife and are then transmitted to humans through carriers, or vectors, such as mosquitoes or ticks. Biologist Marm Kilpatrick, who studies the ecology of infectious diseases at the University of Santa Cruz, co-authored several of the articles in the Lancet series with Sarah Randolph of the University of Oxford. "Increasing human population, and the urbanization and agricultural intensification of landscapes, put strong selective pressure on vector-borne pathogens to infect humans - and to be transmitted by vectors and hosts that live around humans," Kilpatrick said. "Our fast-track has led to a growing disease threat," Sam Scheiner, a program director at the Evolution of Infectious Diseases program at the National Science Foundation, said. EEID is a collaborative research program jointly operated by the NSF and the U.S. National Institutes of Health. The program funded much of the research conducted for the Lancet articles. "These papers show how and why zoonotic diseases are emerging, and what we need to know to ease the disease burden," Scheiner said.