It seems like whenever a disease is eradicated, a new strain of infections or pathogens arise. Scientists now believe that climate change might contribute to the mutation of disease agents thus the never ending cycle of new strains of pathogens.
Apparently, not even vaccines will be able to prevent diseases from becoming endemics due to the fact that pathogens jump from one host to another and go through various mutations with which science cannot follow.
This process can enable diseases to travel to different parts of the world where, up until now, populations weren’t faced with such infections.
Daniel Brooks, an affiliate of the Harold W. Manter Laboratory of Parasitology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln considers that it won’t be the case of one “Andromeda Strain” which will erase the entire population on Earth but an entire array of “localized outbreaks” which will be too hard to contain within controllable limits.
Eric Hoberg, a zoologist, member of the US National Parasite Collection of the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service collaborated with Brooks to gather information regarding how climate change influences ecosystem conditions.
They concluded that as pathogens reach new hosts while still having the same powerful genetic traits, mankind needs to modify some fundamental concepts regarding disease control.
The two scientists also described the so-called “parasite paradox”, a situation where pathogens jump from one species to the other due to the “co-evolution of parasites and hosts, an event which usually develops in a complete opposite way.
So there are a few “highly adaptive pathogens” that can jump from one host to another while other strains travel to different regions according to where species move. One such situation was observed in Costa Rica where parasites living in capuchin and spider monkey moved to howler monkey, a species that was eventually eradicated in that region.
Brooks considers that:
“We’re not winning the war against emerging diseases. We’re not anticipating them. We’re not paying attention to their basic biology, where they might come from and the potential for new pathogens to be introduced.”
The two scientists concluded that besides treating people suffering from these newly formed diseases, there is a need for more research on how certain pathogens live in non-human species.
Image Source: Sanger