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Big data helps determine what drives disease risk

Big data helps determine what drives disease risk
The number of observations across ecological contexts. af, Summary of the number of observations (that is, effect sizes) in the infectious disease database across the following ecological contexts: global change driver (a), parasite taxa (b), host taxa (c), experimental venue (d), habitat of the study (e) and human parasite status (f). g, The locations of field studies show broad global coverage of studies included in the database. See Extended Data Fig. 2 for the number of parasite taxa as well as the number of parasite taxa in the database partitioned by ecto- and endoparasites, ecto- and endothermic hosts, vectors and non-vectors, vector-borne and non-vector-borne parasites, complex and direct transmission parasites, parasites with and without free-living stages, parasites that do and do not infect humans, microparasites and macroparasites, and zoonotic and non-zoonotic parasites. Credit: Nature (2024). DOI: 10.1038/s41586-024-07380-6

Working with nearly 3,000 observations across almost 1,500 host-parasite combinations, researchers at Notre Dame University have found that biodiversity loss, chemical pollution, introduced species, and climate change, but not urbanization, are driving increases in infectious disease risk.

As the number of emerging in organisms across the tree of life, including humans, rises, it is becoming increasingly important to understand what drives disease spread and whether human actions are part of the cause. This information will aid in disease management strategies and predicting the potential for disease spread given a set of environmental or other changes.

These efforts are important not only for diseases that could infect humans but also for diseases in other animals that can lead to human disease. Diseases in plants can also have a massive impact on agriculture and food security.

Specifically, the new study published in Nature points to lowering and enhancing ecosystem management efforts as key steps in limiting the burden of diseases in humans, other animals and plants.

More information: Jason Rohr, A meta-analysis on global change drivers and the risk of infectious disease, Nature (2024). DOI: 10.1038/s41586-024-07380-6.

Journal information: Nature

Citation: Big data helps determine what drives disease risk (2024, May 8) retrieved 24 June 2024 from
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