We've had swine flu, bird flu, and now, camel flu. Camel flu coronavirus (particles pictured in green embedded in camel tissue) first appeared in Saudi Arabia in 2012 where it has killed 300 people and infected many more with Middle East Respiratory Disease (MERS). What’s going on? The answer is zoonosis, a word that epidemiologists are warning will become common in the twenty-first century as more viruses mutate to cross over from animals to humans. And the pace will quicken as a ballooning human population disturbs previously isolated ecosystems and huddles in metropoles almost designed to aid contagion. Add to the mix widespread global air travel, and conditions are ripe for a widespread epidemic. Only a combination of good sanitation, following etiquette on coughing and sneezing in public, and the preparedness of health authorities can stop an outbreak going global.
Written by Tristan Farrow
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