it clear that understanding the ecology of infectious diseases will take a long-term, multidisciplinary effort—one that is essential to public health efforts of the future.

Although on a broad regional scale there is an increased risk to humans from the trophic cascade triggered by increased precipitation input into the environment, the actual risk to humans is highly localized and depends on a complex series of variables. Other factors, such as landscape heterogeneity, microclimatic differences, rodent disease, local food abundance, and competition, may be involved as well, and such complexity will have to be taken into account before a predictive model of HPS risk can be developed on a fine-grained scaled.

Understanding the biological complexity of natural and humandominated ecosystems will be required before ecological and evolutionary forecasting can be employed on the scale needed to safeguard the public health against hantaviral and other zoonotic disease outbreaks. Largescale, long-term, multidisciplinary studies also will be necessary to determine if foreign or genetically modified pathogens are being introduced into our ecosystems.

Near real-time forecasting of risks of these types of diseases will be possible only if remote and other types of sensing become utilized on a continental or global scale. One example, based on hantavirus in the American Southwest, is discussed as a possible model for a wider array of applications.


Nichol, S.T., C.F. Spiropoulou, S. Morzunov, P.E. Rollin, T.G. Ksiazek, H. Feldmann, A. Sanchez, J. Childs, S. Zaki, and C.J. Peters. 1993. Genetic identification of a hantavirus associated with an outbreak of acute respiratory illness. Science 262:914-917.

Peters, C.J., G.L. Simpson, and H. Levy. 1999. Spectrum of hantavirus infection: haemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome and hantavirus pulmonary syndrome. Annual Review of Medicine 50:531-545.

Schmaljohn, C., and B. Hjelle. 1997. Hantaviruses: a global disease problem. Emerging Infectious Diseases 3(2):95-104.

Yates, T.L., J.N. Mills, C.A. Parmenter, T.G. Ksiazek, R.R. Parmenter, J.R. Vande Castle, C.H. Calisher, S.T. Nichol, K.D. Abbott, J.C. Young, M.L. Morrison, B.J. Beaty, J.L. Dunnum, R.J. Baker, J. Salazar-Bravo, and C.J. Peters. 2002. The ecology and evolutionary history of an emergent disease: hantavirus pulmonary syndrome. BioScience 52:989–998.

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement