Emerging infectious disease: An underappreciated area of strategic concern for food security

Daniel R. Brooks, Eric P. Hoberg, Walter A. Boeger, Valeria Trivellone

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) increasingly threaten global food security and public health. Despite technological breakthroughs, we are losing the battle with (re)emerging diseases as treatment costs and production losses rise. A horizon scan of diseases of crops, livestock, seafood and food-borne illness suggests these costs are unsustainable. The paradigm of coevolution between pathogens and particular hosts teaches that emerging diseases occur only when pathogens evolve specific capacities that allow them to move to new hosts. EIDs ought to be rare and unpredictable, so crisis response is the best we can do. Alternatively, the Stockholm Paradigm suggests that the world is full of susceptible but unexposed hosts that pathogens could infect, given the opportunity. Global climate change, globalized trade and travel, urbanization and land-use changes (often associated with biodiversity loss) increase those opportunities, making EID frequent. We can, however, anticipate their arrival in new locations and their behaviour once they have arrived. We can ‘find them before they find us’, mitigating their impacts. The DAMA (Document, Assess, Monitor, Act) protocol alters the current reactive stance and embodies proactive solutions to anticipate and mitigate the impacts of EID, extending human and material resources and buying time for development of new vaccinations, medications and control measures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)254-267
Number of pages14
JournalTransboundary and Emerging Diseases
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2022


  • DAMA protocol
  • global climate change
  • global food security
  • global trade and travel
  • pathogen spillover and disease burden
  • Stockholm Paradigm

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Veterinary


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