Environmental and social influences on emerging infectious diseases: past, present, and future
Human global dispersal, cultural evolution, and inter-population contact and conflict have caused major transitions in our relationships with the natural world. The three great historical transitions — agrarian settlements, Eurasian civilization interactions, and European expansionism — have transformed infectious disease patterns. Today's seeming increased liability of infectious diseases reflects various demographic, environmental, behavioural, technological, and other changes in human ecology. Modern medicine has created new opportunities for microbes (while injudicious antibiotic use has increased their ‘biodiversity’). A new equilibrium state may lie ahead. However, any mature, sustainable, human ecology must accommodate both the need for and the needs of the microbial species that are part of life on Earth.
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