New serious infectious diseases – recent history and current status – KSLAT 25-2004

The critical SARS epidemic is probably still fresh in everyone’s mind, particularly as new cases continue to develop from time to time. Foot and mouth disease and swine fever are other well-known and dreaded diseases. We believed that we knew how to deal with and prevent such diseases, but we have recently experienced massive outbreaks at close quarters.

Other new and deadly viral diseases, probably originating from wild animals, have led to massive epidemics in other animals species as wild animals colonise new sites close to humans and domestic animals, thus creating new infection pathways. Extreme tourism is a risk factor in this context. Forest fires, which can have their origins in global warming, have also been cited as a rea- son for animal displacement, for example of bats from Indonesia to Southeast Asia, with subsequent outbreaks of disease.
A common factor in many of these new diseases is that they have their origins in areas densely populated by animals and humans in Asia. What are the risks of these diseases spreading to Europe and then to Sweden? What is being done to reduce these risks?

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