Ian Le Guillou at Understanding Animal Research (UAR) tells us how infectious diseases jump between species. These jumps often happen because of things that humans do. Sometimes, the disease jumps to us. Diseases that can infect humans and also other species are called zoonoses.
I like UAR. These people are doing something that I’d long wanted to happen – talking sensibly about animal work in labs. So I’m a little frustrated to find a few errors in Dr Le Guillou’s article. Only small errors, which you might not notice unless you’ve written a PhD thesis about Toxoplasma gondii as I did. For example, Dr Le Guillou says that Toxo prevalence in humans is 50% and it isn’t. Unless new data has been published, the best estimate we have is that it’s about 30%.
Picky? Moi? Yes I’m picky. But apart from the picky bits, I like this article. Diseases which jump host species can be truly devastating. Dr Le Guillou gives examples in mammals and amphibians but it’s much wider too. Some of the emerging tree diseases have jumped from tree to tree. Crop diseases jump species too, and I haven’t even started on arthropod diseases.