1. History of Zoonosis

  2. Examples

  3. Application of Data Science

History of zoonosis

In order for a better understanding, the introduction following from wikipedia may be helpful

"During most of human prehistory groups of hunter-gatherers were probably very small. Such groups probably made contact with other such bands only rarely. Such isolation would have caused epidemic diseases to be restricted to any given local population, because propagation and expansion of epidemics depend on frequent contact with other individuals who have not yet developed an adequate immune response. To persist in such a population, a pathogen either had to be a chronic infection, staying present and potentially infectious in the infected host for long periods, or it had to have other additional species as reservoir where it can maintain itself until further susceptible hosts are contacted and infected. In fact, for many 'human' diseases, the human is actually better viewed as an accidental or incidental victim and a dead-end host. Examples include rabies, anthrax, tularemia and West Nile virus. Thus, much of human exposure to infectious disease has been zoonotic. Many modern diseases, even epidemic diseases, started out as zoonotic diseases. It is hard to establish with certainty which diseases jumped from other animals to humans, but there is increasing evidence from DNA and RNA sequencing, that measles, smallpox, influenza, HIV, and diphtheria came to us this way. Various forms of the common cold and tuberculosis also are adaptations of strains originating in other species. Zoonoses are of interest because they are often previously unrecognized diseases or have increased virulence in populations lacking immunity. The West Nile virus appeared in the United States in 1999 in the New York City area, and moved through the country in the summer of 2002, causing much distress. Bubonic plague is a zoonotic disease, as are salmonellosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and Lyme disease. A major factor contributing to the appearance of new zoonotic pathogens in human populations is increased contact between humans and wildlife. This can be caused either by encroachment of human activity into wilderness areas or by movement of wild animals into areas of human activity. An example of this is the outbreak of Nipah virus in peninsular Malaysia in 1999, when intensive pig farming began on the habitat of infected fruit bats. Unidentified infection of the pigs amplified the force of infection, eventually transmitting the virus to farmers and causing 105 human deaths. Similarly, in recent times avian influenza and West Nile virus have spilled over into human populations probably due to interactions between the carrier host and domestic animals. Highly mobile animals such as bats and birds may present a greater risk of zoonotic transmission than other animals due to the ease with which they can move into areas of human habitation. Because they depend on the human host for part of their life-cycle, diseases such as African schistosomiasis, river blindness, and elephantiasis are not defined as zoonotic, even though they may depend on transmission by insects or other vectors."


Influenza A virus subtype H5N1


West Nile fever


Rabies is a viral disease that causes inflammation of the brain in humans and other mammals. Early symptoms can include fever and tingling at the site of exposure. These symptoms are followed by one or more of the following symptoms: violent movements, uncontrolled excitement, fear of water, an inability to move parts of the body, confusion, and loss of consciousness. Once symptoms appear, the result is nearly always death. The time period between contracting the disease and the start of symptoms is usually one to three months; however, this time period can vary from less than one week to more than one year. The time is dependent on the distance the virus must travel to reach the central nervous system.

West Nile fever

West Nile fever is a mosquito-borne infection by the West Nile virus. Approximately 80% of West Nile virus infections in humans have few or no symptoms. In the cases where symptoms do occur. Termed West Nile fever in cases without neurological disease—the time from infection to the appearance of symptoms is typically between 2 and 15 days. Symptoms may include fever, headaches, feeling tired, muscle pain or aches, nausea, loss of appetite, vomiting, and rash. Less than 1% of the cases are severe and result in neurological disease when the central nervous system is affected. People of advanced age, the very young, or those with immunosuppression, either medically induced, such as those taking immunosupressive drugs, or due to a pre-existing medical condition such as HIV infection, are most susceptible. The specific neurological diseases that may occur are West Nile encephalitis, which causes inflammation of the brain, West Nile meningitis, which causes inflammation of the meninges, which are the protective membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord, West Nile meningoencephalitis, which causes inflammation of the brain and also the meninges surrounding it, and West Nile poliomyelitis—spinal cord inflammation, which results in a syndrome similar to polio, which may cause acute flaccid paralysis.

Influenza A virus subtype H5N1

Influenza A virus subtype H5N1, also known as A(H5N1) or simply H5N1, is a subtype of the influenza A virus which can cause illness in humans and many other animal species. A bird-adapted strain of H5N1, called HPAI A(H5N1) for highly pathogenic avian influenza virus of type A of subtype H5N1, is the highly pathogenic causative agent of H5N1 flu, commonly known as avian influenza ("bird flu"). It is enzootic (maintained in the population) in many bird populations, especially in Southeast Asia. One strain of HPAI A(H5N1) is spreading globally after first appearing in Asia. It is epizootic (an epidemic in nonhumans) and panzootic (affecting animals of many species, especially over a wide area), killing tens of millions of birds and spurring the culling of hundreds of millions of others to stem its spread. Many references to "bird flu" and H5N1 in the popular media refer to this strain.

Application of Data Science

Modern machine learning and data science techniques has changed the traditional way of predicting and classifying diseases. By applying mathmematical models on a well collected dataset, scientists are able to see a pattern which can be easiliy analyzed. Various things can be concluded from these patterns. The figure below is an example.

This is a simple plot of a statistics of "Brucellosis", one zoonosis. From the figure shown, we can definitely see that there is a huge increase of cases reported in around week 20, which indicates that there might be an spread of Brucellosis in a certain area. However, much more plots and tables can be generated from a single dataset, and this is merely one of them. This pattern can be describes as "Regression" which can be used to predict. On the other hand, a "Classification" model would also be helpful to disease control and classified. After collecting a considerale amount of datasets, we will be able to use the existed data to classify the new data. A particular disease always has its own symptoms, effect on different groups, ages of people, and period of time. All of these can be collected in a form of data as predictors to fit a classification model. A good classification model with fine accuracy can help determine the types of disease and choose the correct treatment on time.