emerging virusesmedical dictionary

In epidemiology, a class of viruses that have long infected humans or animals but now have the opportunity to attain epidemic proportions due to human encroachment on tropical rainforests, increased international travel, burgeoning populations in less developed countries, and, possibly, global warming. About two dozen viruses have been termed emergent, including haemorrhagic viruses such as Ebola, Marburg, and Hantaan; the rabies-like viruses Mokola and Duvenhage; rodent-borne Jinin and Lassa virus; and mosquito-borne dengue. Virologists speculate that the strain of HIV that causes AIDS may also fall into this category, having entered humans through contact with monkeys in central Africa, possibly having existed among monkey populations for some 50,000 years.

(05 Mar 2000)

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