Travel and the emergence of infectious diseases

Emerg Infect Dis. 1995 Apr-Jun;1(2):39-46. doi: 10.3201/eid0102.950201.


Travel is a potent force in the emergence of disease. Migration of humans has been the pathway for disseminating infectious diseases throughout recorded history and will continue to shape the emergence, frequency, and spread of infections in geographic areas and populations. The current volume, speed, and reach of travel are unprecedented. The consequences of travel extend beyond the traveler to the population visited and the ecosystem. When they travel, humans carry their genetic makeup, immunologic sequelae of past infections, cultural preferences, customs, and behavioral patterns. Microbes, animals, and other biologic life also accompany them. Today's massive movement of humans and materials sets the stage for mixing diverse genetic pools at rates and in combinations previously unknown. Concomitant changes in the environment, climate, technology, land use, human behavior, and demographics converge to favor the emergence of infectious diseases caused by a broad range of organisms in humans, as well as in plants and animals.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Animal Diseases / microbiology
  • Animal Diseases / parasitology
  • Animals
  • Carrier State / microbiology
  • Carrier State / parasitology
  • Commerce / history
  • Communicable Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Communicable Diseases / history
  • Communicable Diseases / transmission*
  • Ecology
  • Emigration and Immigration / history
  • Global Health
  • History, 16th Century
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, Ancient
  • History, Medieval
  • Humans
  • Plant Diseases / microbiology
  • Plant Diseases / parasitology
  • Population Dynamics
  • Travel* / history