Chapter 4: Human viruses: Emergence and evolution

Elsevier, Emerging and Reemerging Viral Pathogens, Volume 1: Fundamental and Basic Virology Aspects of Human, Animal and Plant Pathogens, 2020, Pages 53-68
Sudhan S.S., Sharma P.

Many new viruses have emerged in the last five decades. These newer genetically active agents have a major impact on the public health systems worldwide. Most emerging infections appear to be caused by pathogens already present in the environment, brought out of obscurity or given a selective advantage by changing conditions and afforded an opportunity to infect new host populations. Also on rare occasions, a new variant may evolve and cause a new disease. Altered virus transmission because of deforestation and environment change, ecological changes and agricultural development, commerce, technology, microbial adaptation and change, breakdown of public health measures, and deficiencies in public health infrastructure are the reasons for emergence and reemergence of infectious diseases in general and viral infections in particular. Specific factors precipitating disease emergence can be identified in virtually all cases. Moreover, these factors are increasing in prevalence. This increase, together with the ongoing evolution of viral and microbial variants and selection for drug resistance, suggests that infections will continue to emerge and probably increase and emphasize the urgent need for effective surveillance and control. These viruses are rich source of emerging diseases due to the introduction of infections from other species in the zoonotic pool. In the near future, there is an urgent need to monitor collaboration between human-animal interface so that public health risks can be understood. A number of activities increase microbial traffic from animals to humans or disseminate microbes from isolated groups into new populations and as a result promote emergence and epidemics. In some cases, including many of the most novel infections, the agents are zoonotic crossing from their natural hosts into the human population because of many similarities. Vector-borne diseases also have a natural advantage of dissemination.