Microcosm Digital Magazine - Winter 2021
Microbes Between Us: How Pathogens Move Between Species and Environments
Although it is not a new concept, many people were not familiar with "One Health" before the SARS CoV-2 pandemic. The evidence that SARS CoV-2 came from bats, coupled with the search for other intermediate hosts between bats and humans, emphasized the importance of animal-to-human transmission as a source of emerging infectious diseases in humans.
More and more, research tells us that the health of humans is tied to that of animals and the environment. This has led to a "One Health" concept that addresses health issues by thinking about how these three domains influence each other, and how knowledge in one area can inform new advances in the others.
An effective early warning system for tomorrow’s health crises needs to cross disciplines, connecting humans to animals to the environment.
In 2005, chimpanzees at the Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Freetown, Sierra Leone, started dying from a mysterious illness. The illness came on quickly, with some chimps being found dead before caretakers even knew they were sick.
Bats are proven reservoirs of many microbes that can cause severe disease in humans. However, they are also key contributors to global and environmental health, as principal pollinators, seed dispersers and insect-eaters. Unfortunately, these winged mammals are in the throes of a pandemic that has killed millions of North American bats in the past 2 decades.
It's no secret that humans love their pets. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) estimates 57% of U.S. households own at least one companion animal. Proper pet care is essential to keeping animals and human caretakers healthy, and this includes understanding the microbes that live on and within our canine companions.
Infectious disease outbreaks are always a major health concern. Pathogens that affect humans naturally get most of the headlines, but perhaps as important are those that affect and threaten the global food supply.
Zoonotic diseases - those transmitted between humans and animals - account for 75% of new or emerging infectious diseases. The future of public health depends on predicting and preventing spillover events, particularly as interactions with wildlife and domestic animals increase.
Topics explored in this issue: Microbiology Mysteries; Nature vs. Nurture? Heritability of the Microbiome; The Evolution of Antimicrobial Resistance; How Does Phage DNA Enter a Bacterial Host?; Why Do Respiratory Infections Often Lead to Intestinal Symptoms?; New Insights into Microbes and Biogeochemical Cycles; How Do Fungi Breech Plant Surfaces?
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Stanley Maloy, Ph.D.
San Diego State University
Victor DiRita, Ph.D.
Michigan State University
Steven Finkel, Ph.D.
University of Southern California
Timothy J. Donohue, Ph.D.
University of Wisconsin
Marylynn Yates, Ph.D.
University of California
Stefano Bertuzzi, Ph.D.
Chief Marketing and Communications Officer
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