Surveillance of new infectious diseases focuses on wrong areas

BMJ 2008; 336 doi: (Published 06 March 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;336:528
  1. Susan Mayor
  1. 1London

Systems for surveillance of new infectious diseases are currently monitoring the wrong areas of the world, warns one of the first analyses to track the history of emerging diseases in relation to location worldwide.

The study analysed a database of 335 episodes of new infectious diseases emerging in human populations for the first time between 1940 and 2004 (Nature 2008;451:990-4). The diseases included those caused by newly evolved strains of pathogens (such as multidrug resistant tuberculosis and chloroquine resistant malaria), pathogens entering human populations for the first time (such as HIV1 and the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronavirus), and pathogens that have probably been present in humans historically but have recently increased in incidence (such as Lyme disease).

The results showed a …

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