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Credit: Ken Doerr/Flickr

Rethinking our approach to zoonotic diseases in a changing world

Despite historical attempts to eliminate diseases, experts now suggest focusing on control and coexistence.

Joanna Thompson reports for Undark.


In short:

  • Many diseases, like Lyme and malaria, cannot be eradicated due to their complex ecologies involving multiple hosts and vectors.
  • Recent efforts focus on prevention, like using narrow-spectrum antibiotics in natural reservoirs and developing gene-edited mosquitos.
  • Historical efforts to eradicate diseases, such as the Soviet campaign against plague, have largely failed and shifted to containment strategies.

Key quote:

"Shifting our resources — which are limited — to prevention and surveillance is the only way to go."

— Susan Jones, ecologist and historian at the University of Minnesota

Why this matters:

Understanding the complexity of zoonotic diseases indicates a need for sustainable prevention strategies rather than eradication. Read more: Cutting forests and disturbing natural habitats increases our risk of wildlife diseases.

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