Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Virginia Tech researcher explores role of human behavior in infectious disease emergence

30.04.2010
After studying the interactions of human and animal populations in Africa, Kathleen Alexander, associate professor of wildlife science in Virginia Tech's College of Natural Resources, found powerful evidence of how human behavior can influence the emergence of infectious disease in humans and animals.

Although human behavior is frequently cited as a factor that influences disease emergence events, most behavioral research has focused on the pathogen, the reservoir hosts (animals populations that maintain the pathogen in the environment), or the vectors (agents that transmit pathogens from host to host) of infectious disease.

To demonstrate the relationship between human behavior and pathogen emergence, Alexander (http://www.fishwild.vt.edu/faculty/alexander.htm) examined how different human behaviors influence disease transmission between domestic dogs and the African wild dog, an endangered species, in Kenya and Botswana. In Africa, the domestic dog is thought to be the primary source of canine diseases leading to the decline of African wild dog populations.

In the journal article, "Human behavior influences infectious disease emergence at the human-animal interface," (http://www.esajournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1890/090057) published in the Ecological Society of America's Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment (http://www.frontiersinecology.org/), Alexander explains the significant differences in ranging behavior that she found in domestic dogs in Kenya and Botswana, which parallel the differences in disease-related mortality in African wild dog populations. The majority of domestic dogs in Kenya spend the day with grazing cattle, accompanied by herders, whereas in Botswana, most domestic dogs remain in the village, since cattle are normally left to graze unattended. As a result, African wild dogs have much higher disease mortality rates in Kenya, where they have more contact with domestic dogs.

These range differences in domestic dogs are associated with animal husbandry practices that vary between cultures. Using this investigation and similar cases in which human culture has influenced disease emergence, Alexander illustrates the implications of human behavior on infectious disease research and control, and explains how some animal illnesses can be spread to humans. "By promoting infectious disease emergence, human behavior may be the key that unlocks the proverbial Pandora's Box, allowing infectious diseases to emerge," Alexander remarked.

"We are increasingly seeing the threat that zoonotic disease emergence [animal diseases that can be passed to humans] poses to human health. One of the key drivers of emerging infectious disease is human behavior. What people do and how they do it in their environment will strongly shape the risk of pathogen exposure," Alexander said. "We need to better understand human culture and behavior in this context so we are better able to predict where the next pandemic might begin. At present, we can only wait for the next outbreak."

Alexander is working closely with CARACAL (http://www.caracal.info/) — the Centre for Conservation of African Resources: Animals, Communities, and Land Use — on environmental matters in Botswana, ranging from community conflict with wildlife to the health of wildlife and people living in the area.

The College of Natural Resources (http://www.cnr.vt.edu/) at Virginia Tech consistently ranks among the top three programs of its kind in the nation. Faculty members stress both the technical and human elements of natural resources and instill in students a sense of stewardship and land-use ethics. Areas of studies include environmental resource management, fisheries and wildlife sciences, forestry, geospatial and environmental analysis, natural resource recreation, urban forestry, wood science and forest products, geography, and international development. Virginia Tech, the most comprehensive university in Virginia, is dedicated to quality, innovation, and results to the commonwealth, the nation, and the world.

Lynn Davis | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.vt.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Waste in the water – New purification techniques for healthier aquatic ecosystems
24.07.2018 | Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen

nachricht Plenty of habitat for bears in Europe
24.07.2018 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: It’s All in the Mix: Jülich Researchers are Developing Fast-Charging Solid-State Batteries

There are currently great hopes for solid-state batteries. They contain no liquid parts that could leak or catch fire. For this reason, they do not require cooling and are considered to be much safer, more reliable, and longer lasting than traditional lithium-ion batteries. Jülich scientists have now introduced a new concept that allows currents up to ten times greater during charging and discharging than previously described in the literature. The improvement was achieved by a “clever” choice of materials with a focus on consistently good compatibility. All components were made from phosphate compounds, which are well matched both chemically and mechanically.

The low current is considered one of the biggest hurdles in the development of solid-state batteries. It is the reason why the batteries take a relatively long...

Im Focus: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum bugs, meet your new swatter

20.08.2018 | Information Technology

A novel synthetic antibody enables conditional “protein knockdown” in vertebrates

20.08.2018 | Life Sciences

Metamolds: Molding a mold

20.08.2018 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>