Emerging & Re-emerging Diseases

The Challenge:

Infectious diseases are defined as emerging if their incidence has either increased recently or threatens to increase in the near future.

Emerging infectious diseases can result from changes or evolution of existing pathogens, the spread of known pathogens to new geographic areas or host populations, the appearance of previously unrecognized pathogens in areas undergoing changes in environment/ecology, or the development of antimicrobial resistance in known pathogens.

Because more than two-thirds of emerging infectious diseases are zoonoses, i.e., transmitted to humans from animals, and their emergence and spread can be influenced by environmental factors, it is essential that efforts directed at their detection and control encompass human, animal, and ecosystem health.

The University of Georgia is uniquely positioned to address the challenge of emerging infectious diseases at this interface, with historical strengths in the College of Veterinary Medicine, College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, and School of Forestry and Natural Resources; the first stand-alone School of Ecology in the world, with particular strength in infectious disease ecology; rapidly expanding strength in Epidemiology and Environmental Health; the internationally recognized Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases; and the new Georgia Health Sciences University / University of Georgia Medical Partnership.

Moreover, research in the College of Public Health and the Institute of Bioinformatics focus on pathogen evolution and its role in disease emergence, while for more than 50 years the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study has monitored disease in wild animal populations, potential spread to domestic animals, and the risk of transmission to humans.

Areas of Emphasis