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Home / Health / That's how the world's deadliest pandemics are born – VICE News

That's how the world's deadliest pandemics are born – VICE News



Somewhere in the world an unknown virus grows in the blood of an animal just waiting to jump to the human population.

Since the 1980s, outbreaks of infectious diseases have more than tripled worldwide. For example, every year one million people die from mosquito-borne diseases. And with rising temperatures and population growth, the death toll is likely to increase. To stay one step ahead of a potentially devastating global pandemic, scientists have found new ways to explore and experience disease.

Ron Fouchier, a doctor who researches genetic mutations at the Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands, genetically modified the H5N1 bird to transmit influenza virus to the air. "Now we can find out exactly what it takes for an animal virus to fly," he told VICE News.

Fouchier's work originally sent shockwaves through the international community, but global health experts have found that careful monitoring and research into these diseases is the key to keeping them at bay.

"Humans are only as strong as our weakest surveillance system," said Larry Brilliant, a doctor who helped eradicate smallpox, to VICE News. As chairman of the Skoll Global Threat Fund, his work now focuses on using mobile data to track outbreaks. "This is a case where America first means working with the world's poorest countries to protect it from selfishness, from our own enlightened self-interest."

Somewhere in the world, an unknown virus is growing in the blood of an animal just waiting to leap to the human population.

Since the 1

980s, outbreaks of infectious diseases have more than tripled worldwide. For example, every year one million people die from mosquito-borne diseases. And with rising temperatures and population growth, the death toll is likely to increase. To stay one step ahead of a potentially devastating global pandemic, scientists have found new ways to explore and experience disease.

Ron Fouchier, a doctor who researches genetic mutations at the Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands, genetically modified the H5N1 bird to transmit influenza virus to the air. "Now we can find out exactly what it takes for an animal virus to fly," he told VICE News.

Fouchier's work originally sent shockwaves through the international community, but global health experts have found that careful monitoring and research into these diseases is the key to keeping them at bay.

"Humans are only as strong as our weakest surveillance system," said Larry Brilliant, a doctor who helped eradicate smallpox, to VICE News. As chairman of the Skoll Global Threat Fund, his work now focuses on using mobile data to track outbreaks. "This is a case where America first means working with the world's poorest countries to protect it from selfishness, from our own enlightened self-interest."

Uganda, where the Zika virus was first discovered in 1947, already uses a decentralized network of hospitals, laboratories and motorcyclists to keep scientists informed of medical anomalies so they can quickly detect new threats.

VICE founder Suroosh Alvi went to the Zika Forest and Kampala, Uganda to see how vulnerable people are to a new pandemic and what opportunities there are to fight one off.


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