Edited by Charles Perrings, Mark Williamson and Silvana Dalmazzone
Chapter 3: Infectious diseases as invasives in human populations
Doriana Delﬁno and Peter J. Simmons 1 INTRODUCTION Invasives are typically thought of as a species of plant or animal that enters a local ecosystem. The way the new species interacts with the existing environment may lead to its rapid growth and, sometimes, to a sharp and major reduction in the biodiversity of the existing environment. The invasive may take over the environment either directly or indirectly through its initial impact on other species in the environment, which in turn then take off to become invasives (Burdon and Leather, 1990). We argue that infectious disease in human and animal populations can be thought of as an invasive force in the population. For example, the introduction of myxomatosis decimated the rabbit population; in much the same way the medieval plague decimated the populations of many European countries. Here the invasive is regarded as the disease germ itself; its invasive effects occur indirectly through infected individuals interacting with healthy individuals, infecting them so that the disease takes over the population. Our focus is on the nature of infectious diseases as invasives in human populations and then the ways in which the economy in question interacts with the invasive disease on a global scale. Once we have established a framework for this, we analyse how the invasive disease can be controlled and whether public policy is necessary to implement the control. 2 NATURE OF INFECTIOUS DISEASE Infectious diseases have had important effects in reducing human population growth either through altering fertility and...
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