Many infectious diseases have environmental reservoirs and environmentally-mediated transmission pathways, and global environmental change is increasingly affecting patterns of infectious disease distribution.
The majority of emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic – of animal origin. Vectorborne diseases like West Nile Virus and Chikungunya are spreading into new territories. New epidemics of cholera and other diseases are arising from natural disasters. Antibiotic resistance is on the rise as a result of animal husbandry practices. Questions remain about the role of environmental conditions on the spread of COVID-19. These represent just a few examples of the importance of the role that environmental factors play in determining the prevalence and spread of infectious diseases.
The scope of the field of environmental health is rapidly expanding to encompass exposures to infectious agents of disease in addition to more traditional toxicological exposures. This expansion represents an exciting development for the field. It allows for researchers to fully capture complex disease processes related to exposure to both pathogens and toxicants, as well as the interactions between these factors.
Emory researchers are at the forefront of research in the environmental determinants of infectious diseases. Faculty at Rollins are engaged in cutting-edge work on topics related to water- and vector-borne diseases, antibiotic resistance, the gut microbiome, and OneHealth. Students in the department have the opportunity to engage in many projects related to infectious diseases and the interactions between chemical exposures and infectious disease outcomes.