News stories and headlines warn us about new and/or reemerging diseases seemingly every year. But how much of a danger do these diseases really pose? What can you do to reduce the risk from new diseases in your community?
Emerging diseases are caused by microbes, usually bacteria or viruses, that haven’t infected people before or that already infect people but have moved to new places.
New diseases emerge all the time from the animal world. Part of the reason is that the genes in bacteria and viruses are always changing. These gene changes, called mutations, help microbes survive and spread. Some make it possible for bacteria or viruses that once only infected animals to infect people.