Since the rise of modern humans, changes in demography and land use and frequent contact with wildlife and domesticated animals have created ongoing opportunities for pathogen loss, gain, and evolution in the human population. Early transportation networks and population expansion created a world where many human-specific pathogens are now ubiquitous, yet zoonoses continue to emerge as humans encroach into the last remaining wild areas, increase livestock production, and plug into vast global trade networks. Pathogens are exploiting almost any change in human ecology that provides new opportunities for transmission, the most recent being rampant use of antibiotics resulting in new multidrug-resistant pathogens. Public health advances have benefitted some nations, but others continue to suffer from pathogens long eradicated by developed nations. Generalities of pathogen occurrence aid in disease prediction, but a systemic approach incorporating ecology, biogeography, public health, and conservation biology is ultimately necessary to fully comprehend the changing geographic distributions of human pathogens.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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