Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Outbreak Like Mexican Swine Flu Predicted 14 Months Ago

Outbreak Like Mexican Swine Flu Predicted 14 Months Ago
(Source By Robin Lloyd, LiveScience Senior Editor)
posted: 27 April 2009 04:12 pm ET

A team of scientists predicted more than a year ago that Mexico and other tropical locales were emerging "hotspots" for so-called zoonotic diseases that jump from animals to humans, getting it right on the newly reported swine flu.
This week, the scientists are analyzing the patterns of the new swine flu virus's spread and trying to predict its next moves. The researchers "should have preliminary findings by the weekend," team leader Peter Daszak of the Wildlife Trust told LiveScience.
Daszak and his colleagues cautioned in February 2008 that infectious disease-fighting resources are not effectively deployed around the globe and that the U.S. government has not always accurately investigated how flu strains will arrive here.

Hot spots
The tropics prediction came from an analysis of 335 "disease events" involving emerging infectious diseases between 1940 and 2004 — examples include Ebola, HIV, yellow fever and SARS. The analysis showed that such events peaked in the 1980s and that the threat of these diseases to global health is increasing.
The events, mostly caused by zoonotic diseases, were found to be correlated with socio-economic, environmental and ecological factors.
That allowed the scientists to make a predictive map of where emerging diseases are most likely to emerge — pointing to Latin America, tropical Africa and Asia. The map also pointed up that global resources to fight disease emergence are misguided — focusing on richer, developed countries of Europe, North America, parts of Asia and Australia, rather than in developing countries. The report was published in the Feb. 21, 2008, issue of the journal Nature. Read Article...

The disease event prediction map is like an earthquake risk map, Daszak said. "If we live in one of these 'hotspots,' we need to protect ourselves, and our trading and traveling partners from the risk of new diseases," he said.

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