The scientists analyzed 335 incidents of previous disease emergence and were able to identify the regions where future diseases were most likely to occur. They plotted the results on a global, "Emerging Disease Hotspots" map.
"Our hotspots map shows that the next new important zoonotic disease is likely to originate in the Tropics, a region rich in wildlife species and under increasing pressure from people," Daszak said.
This is the first time researchers are able to provide a scientific prediction of where the next major disease like HIV or SARS could emerge. During the last three decades, researchers have spent billions of research dollars to deal with the seemingly random emergence of dozens of pandemics. None of their efforts to understand patterns of emergence were successful.
This new research, published in the February 21 edition of the leading scientific journal Nature, successfully examined over 50 years of disease emergence patterns using a specially designed computer database to pinpoint regions of the world that need more monitoring.
"This is a seminal moment in how we study emerging diseases," said Professor John Gittleman, dean in the University of Georgia's Odum School of Ecology, who developed the team's approach to analyzing global databases."Our study has shown that bringing ecological sciences and public health together can advance the field in a dramatic way."
But in light of this new information, the researchers note that additional resources need to be properly directed to safeguard public health.
"Most of our resources are focused on the richer countries in the North that can afford surveillance," said Daszak. "This is basically a misallocation of global health funding, and our priority should be to set up 'smart surveillance' measures in the hotspots, most of which are in developing countries."
"If we continue to ignore this important p
|Contact: Bobbie Mixon|
National Science Foundation