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Uncovering tales of transmission: an integrated paleopathological perspective on the evolution of shared human and animal pathogens

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posted on 2022-07-08, 10:49 authored by Elizabeth Uhl, Richard Thomas

This chapter highlights the potential of an integrated paleopathological approach for unravelling the evolutionary history of shared human and animal pathogens. The transfer of pathogens between animals and humans has occurred for millennia and remains a public health issue today, as evidenced by the Covid-19 pandemic. Although the focus has traditionally centred on pathogens transmitted from animals to humans (zoonoses), the direction of transmission is also often the other way (reverse zoonoses). The best way to understand the cross-speciestransfer of pathogens is by investigating the conditions that make it possible for anew host, whether human or animal, to be infected. As societies transitioned from hunting and foraging to herding and farming, and from living in rural to urban settings, and in increasingly industrialised environments, dramatic changesoccurred in their relationships with animals. These changes had major impacts on pathogen evolution. In particular, the new opportunities for transmission affected pathogen virulence and distribution. In this chapter, the factors driving transmission of Taenia tapeworms, Mycobacteria, Plasmodium falciparum, Brucella,Burkholderia mallei and the morbilliviruses in domestic environments will be investigated. Evidence will be drawn from paleopathology, historical sources, molecular analysis, paleoenvironmental data, and medical/veterinary clinical literature. This approach helps explain why these pathogens became problematic when and where they did, and identifies factors that are likely to contribute to future outbreaks. The chapter will conclude with a reflection on the ways an interdisciplinary understanding of past diseases provides insights for current and future epidemics.

History

Citation

Uhl, E and Thomas, R, Chapter 17. Uncovering tales of transmission: an integrated paleopathological perspective on the evolution of shared human and animal pathogens in (eds) Kimberly A. Plomp, Charlotte A. Roberts, Sarah Elton, and Gilian R. Bentley , Palaeopathology and Evolutionary Medicine, 2022. Oxford University Press.

Author affiliation

School of Archaeology and Ancient History, University of Leicester

Version

  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Published in

Palaeopathology and Evolutionary Medicine: An Integrated Approach

Pagination

317 - 349

Publisher

Oxford University Press

isbn

9780198849711

Copyright date

2022

Available date

2024-04-29

Notes

Reproduced by permission of Oxford University Press https://global.oup.com/academic/product/palaeopathology-and-evolutionary-medicine-9780198849711?lang=en&cc=us#

Editors

Kimberly A. Plomp, Charlotte A. Roberts, Sarah Elton, and Gilian R. Bentley

Language

en