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Dog suspected source of China plague

Can anyone please explain why so many infectious diseases ("Spanish" influenza of the 1910's, SARS, the bubonic plague of the middle ages, etc.) seem to have their origins in China/that area of the world?

Comments (2)

  1. Rory asks a great question. So what's the answer? The short one is crowding, the animals are living in very close proximity to people and the the infectious agents in the question have the ability to infect more than one species. Thus they spread easily amplifying their numbers and sometimes increase the ease with which they cause disease or its severity. So as the animal (including people) and/or insects shed the infectious agent, whether it be virus, bacteria or fungi, if the infectious agent has the ability to infect more than one species it spread easily within the community. Thus as the population density of animals and people increases the likelihood of the agent expanding and infecting additional animals and people increases and thus the outbreak expands. How can we protect ourselves today? Some of the the best solutions for the controlling the spread of infectious agents are simple and straight forward like washing your hands before interacting with food and your mucosal surfaces (eyes, nose, mouth) and by controlling the dispersal of the agent by coughing/sneezing into your shoulder. The other way, if available, is through immunization. The great disease that is no more, small pox, was eliminated from the face of the planet through vaccination.
  2. Thanks Prof. Schmidt for the answer! I'm currently reading Guns, Germs, & Steel (Jared Diamond) where the idea of human/animal close proximity habitation is put forth as the reason European explorers had already developed resistances to the diseases that so completely devastated indigenous New World peoples - seems like we're still seeing this in action. - R. Meehan

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