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From Persistence to Cross-Species Emergence of a Viral Zoonosis

Science  06 Dec 2013:
Vol. 342, Issue 6163, pp. 1185-1186
DOI: 10.1126/science.1247566

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Summary

Emerging infectious diseases threaten all forms of life on Earth. Many pathogens of great historical and contemporary significance have originated from other species, triggering pandemics, disrupting agriculture, and challenging efforts to conserve endangered wildlife. Despite decades of research on species-jumping pathogens, the most central questions in the field remain major stumbling blocks for societies that seek to mitigate their impacts. These questions include which pathogens are most likely to emerge, which hosts are most likely to share pathogens, and what will be the long-term fate of newly emerged pathogens? Part of the challenge is that emergence, by nature, transcends scientific disciplines, occurring as the product of human behavior, environmental change, population, cellular and molecular biology, and evolution. Solutions therefore demand innovative pairing of theory and fundamental science with applied research and evidence-based policy-making.