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Acta Médica Costarricense

On-line version ISSN 0001-6002Print version ISSN 0001-6012


GARCIA, Fernando. (Emergent infectious diseases: interaction between the microbial world and human societies) . Acta méd. costarric [online]. 2008, vol.50, n.3, pp.136-143. ISSN 0001-6002.

In this review, 2 relevant aspects of emerging infectious diseases are analyzed: the characteristics of the microorganisms causing such infections and the human facts that promote or contribute to emerging infectious diseases. Three important characteristics of microbes involved emerging infectious diseases are identified. First, predominant emerging pathogens are virus and bacteria. ARN viruses constitute 37% of all emerging pathogens. ARN viruses have been predominant among viral emerging pathogens that impacted human populations during the last decades, including HIV and SARS-associated coronavirus. Secondly, emerging pathogens affecting human populations are not associated to a unique type of host, but to a broad range of hosts including different orders of mammals and non-mammal species. In fact, most of the infectious diseases affecting human populations are zoonotic. Thirdly, emerging pathogens have biological flexibility that allows them to take advantage of new epidemiological opportunities to enter into new human populations. Infectious diseases are not a recent issue, on the contrary, they have been emerging throughout human evolution and, at least, 4 historic transitions are identified. The last one is globalization. Several anthropogenic factors influence the occurrence of emerging infectious diseases, including social events, human behavior, environmental changes, public health policies, medical procedures, among others.

Keywords : emerging diseases; species jump; zoonosis; historical transitions; globalization.

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