Origins of major human infectious diseases

  • Wolfe N
  • Dunavan C
  • Diamond J
  • 69

    Readers

    Mendeley users who have this article in their library.
  • N/A

    Citations

    Citations of this article.

Abstract

Many of the major human infectious diseases, including some now confined to humans and absent from animals, are 'new' ones that arose only after the origins of agriculture. Where did they come from? Why are they overwhelmingly of Old World origins? Here we show that answers to these questions are different for tropical and temperate diseases; for instance, in the relative importance of domestic animals and wild primates as sources. We identify five intermediate stages through which a pathogen exclusively infecting animals may become transformed into a pathogen exclusively infecting humans. We propose an initiative to resolve disputed origins of major diseases, and a global early warning system to monitor pathogens infecting individuals exposed to wild animals.

Author-supplied keywords

  • emergence
  • risk-factors
  • viruses

Get free article suggestions today

Mendeley saves you time finding and organizing research

Sign up here
Already have an account ?Sign in

Find this document

Authors

  • N D Wolfe

  • C P Dunavan

  • J Diamond

Cite this document

Choose a citation style from the tabs below

Save time finding and organizing research with Mendeley

Sign up for free