| By Brenda Wilmoth Lerner |
In today’s globalized world, the recognition of emerging diseases and their impacts has never been more important. Just as the second edition of The Gale Encyclopedia of Emerging Diseases is ready for publication, people throughout the world are entering the fourth year of a global pandemic caused by the emergence of the SARS CoV-2 virus, which has yet to find its new ecological niche within our shared environment. Mpox, formerly known as monkeypox and previously confined to a few regions within sub-Saharan Africa, recently expanded its range to cause an outbreak that crossed five additional continents. And because noninfectious conditions like obesity-related liver disease and heat-related kidney disease are increasing in previously unaffected populations, many researchers consider these conditions as emergent diseases even though they can’t be transmitted to another person. The second edition of The Gale Encyclopedia of Emerging Diseases embraces this expanded concept of disease emergence and explains how it impacts global public health.
Many of the most pressing environmental and social issues of the day play a part in the origin and spread of both infectious and noncommunicable diseases, including climate change, animal rights, sexual relations, habitat encroachment, development, gender, food sourcing, stigma, economics, social justice, education, politics, and conflict. Conflict that prevents vaccine delivery, for example, along with vaccine hesitancy, has allowed polio to reemerge in several countries, to paralyze children, and to remain as obstacles for eliminating polio from the planet. The Gale Encyclopedia of Emerging Diseases covers both the disease and the issues that surround it, for a holistic picture of how the social and natural environments shape how diseases emerge to affect humans. This is because in order to understand and minimize the threat from emergent diseases, we can’t rely on epidemiology or laboratory science alone; for success in this endeavor, our global community must be willing to shepherd our environment and civil society, and to facilitate access to health care for all.
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