Lyme Disease: The Ecology of a Complex System

Oxford University Press
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Most human diseases come from nature, from pathogens that live and breed in non-human animals and are "accidentally" transmitted to us. Human illness is only the culmination of a complex series of interactions among species in their natural habitats. To avoid exposure to these pathogens, we must understand which species are involved, what regulates their abundance, and how they interact. Lyme disease affects the lives of millions of people in the US, Europe, and Asia. It is the most frequently reported vector-borne disease in the United States; About 20,000 cases have been reported each year over the past five years, and tens of thousands more go unrecognized and unreported. Despite the epidemiological importance of understanding variable LD risk, such pursuit has been slow, indirect, and only partially successful, due in part to an overemphasis on identifying the small subset of 'key players' that contribute to Lyme disease risk, as well as a general misunderstanding of effective treatment options. This controversial book is a comprehensive, synthetic review of research on the ecology of Lyme disease in North America. It describes how humans get sick, why some years and places are so risky and others not. It challenges dogma - for instance, that risk is closely tied to the abundance of deer - and replaces it with a new understanding that embraces the complexity of species and their interactions. It describes why the place where Lyme disease emerged - coastal New England - set researchers on mistaken pathways. It shows how tiny acorns have enormous impacts on our probability of getting sick, why biodiversity is good for our health, why living next to a small woodlot is dangerous, and why Lyme disease is an excellent model system for understanding many other human and animal diseases. Intended for an audience of professional and student ecologists, epidemiologists, and other health scientists, it is written in an informal style accessible also to non-scientists interested in human health and conservation.
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About the author

Rick Ostfeld is Senior Scientist and Animal Ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Millbrook, New York.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Oxford University Press
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Published on
Nov 4, 2010
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Pages
232
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ISBN
9780199780853
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Language
English
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Genres
Science / Life Sciences / Ecology
Science / Life Sciences / Zoology / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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In recent years, species and ecosystems have been threatened by many anthropogenic factors manifested in local and global declines of populations and species. Although we consider conservation medicine an emerging field, the concept is the result of the long evolution of transdisciplinary thinking within the health and ecological sciences and the better understanding of the complexity within these various fields of knowledge. Conservation medicine was born from the cross fertilization of ideas generated by this new transdisciplinary design. It examines the links among changes in climate, habitat quality, and land use; emergence and re-emergence of infectious agents, parasites and environmental contaminants; and maintenance of biodiversity and ecosystem functions as they sustain the health of plant and animal communities including humans. During the past ten years, new tools and institutional initiatives for assessing and monitoring ecological health concerns have emerged: landscape epidemiology, disease ecological modeling and web-based analytics. New types of integrated ecological health assessment are being deployed; these efforts incorporate environmental indicator studies with specific biomedical diagnostic tools. Other innovations include the development of non-invasive physiological and behavioral monitoring techniques; the adaptation of modern molecular biological and biomedical techniques; the design of population level disease monitoring strategies; the creation of ecosystem-based health and sentinel species surveillance approaches; and the adaptation of health monitoring systems for appropriate developing country situations. New Directions of Conservation Medicine: Applied Cases of Ecological Health addresses these issues with relevant case studies and detailed applied examples. New Directions of Conservation Medicine challenges the notion that human health is an isolated concern removed from the bounds of ecology and species interactions. Human health, animal health, and ecosystem health are moving closer together and at some point, it will be inconceivable that there was ever a clear division.
In recent years, species and ecosystems have been threatened by many anthropogenic factors manifested in local and global declines of populations and species. Although we consider conservation medicine an emerging field, the concept is the result of the long evolution of transdisciplinary thinking within the health and ecological sciences and the better understanding of the complexity within these various fields of knowledge. Conservation medicine was born from the cross fertilization of ideas generated by this new transdisciplinary design. It examines the links among changes in climate, habitat quality, and land use; emergence and re-emergence of infectious agents, parasites and environmental contaminants; and maintenance of biodiversity and ecosystem functions as they sustain the health of plant and animal communities including humans. During the past ten years, new tools and institutional initiatives for assessing and monitoring ecological health concerns have emerged: landscape epidemiology, disease ecological modeling and web-based analytics. New types of integrated ecological health assessment are being deployed; these efforts incorporate environmental indicator studies with specific biomedical diagnostic tools. Other innovations include the development of non-invasive physiological and behavioral monitoring techniques; the adaptation of modern molecular biological and biomedical techniques; the design of population level disease monitoring strategies; the creation of ecosystem-based health and sentinel species surveillance approaches; and the adaptation of health monitoring systems for appropriate developing country situations. New Directions of Conservation Medicine: Applied Cases of Ecological Health addresses these issues with relevant case studies and detailed applied examples. New Directions of Conservation Medicine challenges the notion that human health is an isolated concern removed from the bounds of ecology and species interactions. Human health, animal health, and ecosystem health are moving closer together and at some point, it will be inconceivable that there was ever a clear division.
Most human diseases come from nature, from pathogens that live and breed in non-human animals and are "accidentally" transmitted to us. Human illness is only the culmination of a complex series of interactions among species in their natural habitats. To avoid exposure to these pathogens, we must understand which species are involved, what regulates their abundance, and how they interact. Lyme disease affects the lives of millions of people in the US, Europe, and Asia. It is the most frequently reported vector-borne disease in the United States; About 20,000 cases have been reported each year over the past five years, and tens of thousands more go unrecognized and unreported. Despite the epidemiological importance of understanding variable LD risk, such pursuit has been slow, indirect, and only partially successful, due in part to an overemphasis on identifying the small subset of 'key players' that contribute to Lyme disease risk, as well as a general misunderstanding of effective treatment options. This controversial book is a comprehensive, synthetic review of research on the ecology of Lyme disease in North America. It describes how humans get sick, why some years and places are so risky and others not. It challenges dogma - for instance, that risk is closely tied to the abundance of deer - and replaces it with a new understanding that embraces the complexity of species and their interactions. It describes why the place where Lyme disease emerged - coastal New England - set researchers on mistaken pathways. It shows how tiny acorns have enormous impacts on our probability of getting sick, why biodiversity is good for our health, why living next to a small woodlot is dangerous, and why Lyme disease is an excellent model system for understanding many other human and animal diseases. Intended for an audience of professional and student ecologists, epidemiologists, and other health scientists, it is written in an informal style accessible also to non-scientists interested in human health and conservation.
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