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Ecological epidemiology is the study of the ecology of infectious diseases. It includes population and community level studies of the interactions between hosts and their pathogens and parasites, and covers diseases of both humans and wildlife.
Unlike chimpanzees and gorillas, bonobos have not been found infected by malaria parasites in the wild. Here, Liu et al. report more thorough survey and sequencing results showing that bonobos host malaria parasites, including a yet-unknown species, but only in the eastern-most part of their range.
Human infections with Campylobacter fetus are often assumed to be derived from livestock. Here, Iraola et al. provide evidence that healthy humans may act as carriers and dispersers, and C. fetus may have originated in humans as an intestinal pathobiont and then adapted as a livestock pathogen.
An increased focus on identifying disease hotspots and pre-emptive intervention will be key to halting outbreaks before they become established, but political and economic obstacles cannot be ignored if ambitious new targets to reduce global cholera mortality tenfold are to be achieved.
Increasingly, the pathogens that pose the greatest threats to humans are those that evolve to escape prior immunity and pharmaceutical interventions. In response, we need to employ evolutionary thinking to manage infectious disease.
Feedbacks between biological and economic systems can lead to persistent poverty traps for the world’s rural poor. A combination of economic, ecological and epidemiological modelling helps unravel how these feedbacks and traps occur.
The WHO's plans to bolster global vector control measures blend audacious goals with a sensible approach that could save lives and stimulate economic growth and development in many of the world's poorest nations.