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Global Infection Outbreaks, Unique Diseases Rising Since 1980: Study

Update Date: Oct 29, 2014 10:35 AM EDT

The number of infectious disease outbreaks and the number of unique illnesses causing them are increasing around the globe, a new study has found. 

The study is an analysis of more than 12,000 outbreaks affecting 44 million worldwide over the last 33 years. 

The findings of the study hint an encouraging trend. 

"We live in a world where human populations are increasingly interconnected with one another and with animals-both wildlife and livestock-that host novel pathogens," said Katherine Smith, assistant professor of biology and co-lead author of the study, in the press release. "These connections create opportunities for pathogens to switch hosts, cross borders, and evolve new strains that are stronger than what we have seen in the past."

According to the study, 65 percent of diseases in the dataset were 'zoonoses' which means they came from animals.

"Our data suggest that, despite an increase in overall outbreaks, global improvements in prevention, early detection, control, and treatment are becoming more effective at reducing the number of people infected," the authors wrote.

"A warmer world, a world with altered landscapes, and a more urban world will undoubtedly have a new disease-scape to consider."

The study has been published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.  

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