Menu

Infographic: Researchers Aim to Predict How Pathogens Jump Species

Understanding the factors that influence spillover could help forecast future epidemics. 

Jun 1, 2018
Ashley Yeager

Zoonotic pathogens spread from animals to humans, and sometimes from humans back to animals. Mapping out the step-by-step pathway different zoonotic pathogens follow could help with surveillance efforts designed to prevent outbreaks. Raina Plowright of Montana State University is working with infectious disease experts, ecologists, and a range of other scientists to develop a general framework of the factors that influence how infectious agents jump from one species to another.

In the framework, Plowright and her colleagues identify three main areas that affect spillover: the physiology and ecology the reservoir species, how infected animals come in contact with humans, and what happens to humans after exposure to infection. Within those three broad categories are more detailed factors that affect whether the pathogen can jump from animals to people and whether it will spark an epidemic in the human population. Because different zoonotic pathogens travel different pathways from reservoir animal to human host (a few examples illustrated below), it is difficult to precisely predict when and where outbreaks will occur, Plowright says, but such a framework might “give us some insight” into the circumstances that allow them to happen.

Reservoir Species

Zoonotic pathogens need a host species to survive. The prevalence and intensity of pathogenic infection in the reservoir animal population can influence the chances of spillover, as can the density of the reservoir species and its proximity to human populations.

Jumping Species

How humans come into contact with animals infected with zoonotic pathogens is another critical factor in spillover. Most commonly, people are exposed via the host animals’ excrement, during slaughter of livestock, and from bites, including from mosquitoes and other arthropods. The pathogen’s hardiness and ability to infect different species comes into play in all three scenarios.

Human-to-human Transmission

Finally, once the pathogen moves to a human, it has to battle our immune system and coopt cells in our body to replicate. Only then can the pathogen jump to other humans, replicate, spread, and cause an epidemicof disastrous proportions.

Read the full story.

 

February 2019

Big Storms Brewing

Can forests weather more major hurricanes?

Marketplace

Sponsored Product Updates

Bio-Rad Showcases New Automation Features of its ZE5 Cell Analyzer at SLAS 2019
Bio-Rad Showcases New Automation Features of its ZE5 Cell Analyzer at SLAS 2019
Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc. (NYSE: BIO and BIOb) today showcases new automation features of its ZE5 Cell Analyzer during the Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening 2019 International Conference and Exhibition (SLAS) in Washington, D.C., February 2–6. These capabilities enable the ZE5 to be used for high-throughput flow cytometry in biomarker discovery and phenotypic screening.
Andrew Alliance and Sartorius Collaborate to Provide Software-Connected Pipettes for Life Science Research
Andrew Alliance and Sartorius Collaborate to Provide Software-Connected Pipettes for Life Science Research
Researchers to benefit from an innovative software-connected pipetting system, bringing improved reproducibility and traceability of experiments to life-science laboratories.
Corning Life Sciences to Feature 3D Cell Culture Technologies at SLAS 2019
Corning Life Sciences to Feature 3D Cell Culture Technologies at SLAS 2019
Corning Incorporated (NYSE: GLW) will showcase advanced 3D cell culture technologies and workflow solutions for spheroids, organoids, tissue models, and applications including ADME/toxicology at the Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening (SLAS) conference, Feb. 2-6 in Washington, D.C.
Corning Introduces New 1536-well Spheroid Microplate
Corning Introduces New 1536-well Spheroid Microplate
High-throughput spheroid microplate benefits cancer research, drug screening