Pest-borne diseases

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Pest-borne diseases

Pests are a major threat to health worldwide, ranging from mosquitoes and other insects that transmit debilitating diseases through bites, to rodents and birds that contaminate food and surfaces around homes and businesses. Rodents and birds are also secondary hosts for a large number of diseases transmitted by the parasites that they carry into the human environment — ticks, lice, fleas and mites.

The population at risk is immense: 6 billion people are estimated to be at risk from gastrointestinal diseases transmitted by pests and 3 billion from malaria alone, according to WHO. The economic implications of these diseases are also immense in both developing and developed countries. In developing countries, large proportions of the population suffer debilitating diseases, overwhelming health services. In developed countries businesses suffer stock and product loss and loss of sales, and health systems bear added costs of both preventable and new emerging diseases.

The threat of pest-borne diseases is growing due to climate change, international travel, globalisation of trade and increasing urbanisation taking over the natural habitats of disease-bearing pests. A better understanding of these diseases is essential for managing them in the future.