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      Identifying Reservoirs of Infection: A Conceptual and Practical Challenge

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          Many infectious agents, especially those that cause emerging diseases, infect more than one host species. Managing reservoirs of multihost pathogens often plays a crucial role in effective disease control. However, reservoirs remain variously and loosely defined. We propose that reservoirs can only be understood with reference to defined target populations. Therefore, we define a reservoir as one or more epidemiologically connected populations or environments in which the pathogen can be permanently maintained and from which infection is transmitted to the defined target population. Existence of a reservoir is confirmed when infection within the target population cannot be sustained after all transmission between target and nontarget populations has been eliminated. When disease can be controlled solely by interventions within target populations, little knowledge of potentially complex reservoir infection dynamics is necessary for effective control. We discuss the practical value of different approaches that may be used to identify reservoirs in the field.

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          Most cited references 37

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          Emerging infectious diseases of wildlife--threats to biodiversity and human health.

          Emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) of free-living wild animals can be classified into three major groups on the basis of key epizootiological criteria: (i) EIDs associated with "spill-over" from domestic animals to wildlife populations living in proximity; (ii) EIDs related directly to human intervention, via host or parasite translocations; and (iii) EIDs with no overt human or domestic animal involvement. These phenomena have two major biological implications: first, many wildlife species are reservoirs of pathogens that threaten domestic animal and human health; second, wildlife EIDs pose a substantial threat to the conservation of global biodiversity.
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            Diseases of humans and their domestic mammals: pathogen characteristics, host range and the risk of emergence.

            Pathogens that can be transmitted between different host species are of fundamental interest and importance from public health, conservation and economic perspectives, yet systematic quantification of these pathogens is lacking. Here, pathogen characteristics, host range and risk factors determining disease emergence were analysed by constructing a database of disease-causing pathogens of humans and domestic mammals. The database consisted of 1415 pathogens causing disease in humans, 616 in livestock and 374 in domestic carnivores. Multihost pathogens were very prevalent among human pathogens (61.6%) and even more so among domestic mammal pathogens (livestock 77.3%, carnivores 90.0%). Pathogens able to infect human, domestic and wildlife hosts contained a similar proportion of disease-causing pathogens for all three host groups. One hundred and ninety-six pathogens were associated with emerging diseases, 175 in humans, 29 in livestock and 12 in domestic carnivores. Across all these groups, helminths and fungi were relatively unlikely to emerge whereas viruses, particularly RNA viruses, were highly likely to emerge. The ability of a pathogen to infect multiple hosts, particularly hosts in other taxonomic orders or wildlife, were also risk factors for emergence in human and livestock pathogens. There is clearly a need to understand the dynamics of infectious diseases in complex multihost communities in order to mitigate disease threats to public health, livestock economies and wildlife.
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              The Critical Community Size for Measles in the United States


                Author and article information

                Emerg Infect Dis
                Emerging Infect. Dis
                Emerging Infectious Diseases
                Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
                December 2002
                : 8
                : 12
                : 1468-1473
                [* ]University of Edinburgh, Roslin, U.K.
                Author notes
                Address for correspondence: Daniel T. Haydon, Department of Zoology, University of Guelph, Guelph Ontario, Canada N1G 2W1; fax: 519-767-1656; e-mail: dhaydon@

                Infectious disease & Microbiology

                transmission, reservoir, disease control, epidemiology, pathogen


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