Skip to main content

Geography and infectious diseases: Role of human mobility, translocation and access to healthcare

Guest edited by Norbert Brattig, Robert Bergquist, Danielle Vienneau and Xiao-Nong Zhou

A thematic series in Infectious Diseases of Poverty.

Geography and infectious diseases © ilya_levchenko /

We live in an increasingly connected world, which contributes to epidemics developing into pandemics assisted by the growth of the general economy with strengthened urban expansion, travel and migration. As translocation of infectious pathogens depend on human mobility dynamics, the link between public health and geography is essential.

The association of environmental factors with human health and well-being is important and relevant, as is spatial-temporal analysis for successful disease management and optimization of health care. Integrated spatial surveillance systems are useful for tracking risk and incidence of diseases and exploration of the environmental factors. Further, interdisciplinary collaboration with transport geography, social sciences and spatial statistics requires connectivity and cross-linkage with global research.

Health equity is closely connected to spatial accessibility to health care and the targeting of healthcare resources (geolocation). Transport plays a key role as it is strongly connected to access to water and sanitation as well as health care facilities. Mobility, travel and transport features e.g. the Belt and Road initiative of China for disease control and global health. Spatial ecology and the genetic evolution of pathogens shape the dynamics of transmission. Thus, the intersection of evolutionary biology, epidemiology and geography work towards an integrated view of spatial incidence, host mobility and viral genetic diversity, while translocation of pathogens is closely connected to the transport of goods, commodities and freight.

The emergence of zoonotic viruses without previous known contact to humans that have moved from various animal reservoirs, e.g., bats, monkeys and pangolins, are now more common due to deforestation and expansion of urban and agricultural areas encroaching on nature. Examples include the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), Ebola, Chikungunya, Zika, avian influenza and several coronaviruses producing severe acute respiratory syndromes (SARS) including the current SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19).

In view of the above considerations, Infectious Diseases of Poverty is launching a new thematic series dealing with the following aspects:

  1. Translocation of infections and infectious agents by human dynamics;
  2. Implication of transport networks, of commodities and freights;
  3. Role of BELT and ROAD initiative in global health and allocation of agents;
  4. Effects of human-animal co-residences, of the expansion urban and agricultural areas including deforestation;
  5. Spatial health and disease management, spatial distribution and risk factors for human infections;
  6. Spillover of zoonotic viruses with high host plasticity (HIV, Ebola, Chikungunya, Zika, avian influenza, SARS) from animal reservoirs (bats, monkeys and pangolins; 
  7. Zoonotic potential of multiresistant bacteria, co-spread of antibiotic resistance within plasmids from microbes;
  8. Role of climatic changes in emergence and re-emergence of infectious diseases, associations of environmental factors with human health; 
  9. Interdisciplinary collaboration: connectivity, cross-linkage of global research, infection control.
  1. Natural, geographical barriers have historically limited the spread of communicable diseases. This is no longer the case in today’s interconnected world, paired with its unprecedented environmental and climate...

    Authors: Norbert Brattig, Robert Bergquist, Danielle Vienneau and Xiao-Nong Zhou
    Citation: Infectious Diseases of Poverty 2024 13:37
  2. Mosquito research in Europe has a long history, primarily focused on malaria vectors. In recent years, invasive mosquito species like the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) and the spread of arboviruses like...

    Authors: Renke Lühken, Norbert Brattig and Norbert Becker
    Citation: Infectious Diseases of Poverty 2023 12:109
  3. Zanzibar has made substantial progress in malaria control with vector control, improved diagnosis, and artemisinin-based combination therapy. Parasite prevalence in the population has remained around 1% but im...

    Authors: Bakar S. Fakih, Aurel Holzschuh, Amanda Ross, Logan Stuck, Ramadhan Abdul, Abdul-Wahid H. Al-Mafazy, Imani Irema, Abdallah Mbena, Sumaiyya G. Thawer, Shija J. Shija, Safia M. Aliy, Abdullah Ali, Günther Fink, Joshua Yukich and Manuel W. Hetzel
    Citation: Infectious Diseases of Poverty 2023 12:80
  4. Antimicrobial resistance is an increasing challenge in low and middle-income countries as it is widespread in these countries and is linked to an increased mortality. Apart from human and environmental factors...

    Authors: Ioana D. Olaru, Birgit Walther and Frieder Schaumburg
    Citation: Infectious Diseases of Poverty 2023 12:59
  5. Primary health care settings and hospitals of low- and middle-income countries have few accessible diagnostic tools and limited laboratory and human resources capacity to identify multiple pathogens with high ...

    Authors: Faisal Nooh, Afona Chernet, Klaus Reither, James Okuma, Norbert W. Brattig, Jürg Utzinger, Nicole Probst-Hensch, Daniel H. Paris and Anou Dreyfus
    Citation: Infectious Diseases of Poverty 2023 12:55
  6. Cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) is a wide-reaching infection of major public health concern. Iran is one of the six most endemic countries in the world. This study aims to provide a spatiotemporal visualization o...

    Authors: Neda Firouraghi, Robert Bergquist, Munazza Fatima, Alireza Mohammadi, Davidson H. Hamer, Mohammad Reza Shirzadi and Behzad Kiani
    Citation: Infectious Diseases of Poverty 2023 12:49
  7. Vector-borne diseases (VBDs) are important contributors to the global burden of infectious diseases due to their epidemic potential, which can result in significant population and economic impacts. Oropouche f...

    Authors: Daniel Romero-Alvarez, Luis E. Escobar, Albert J. Auguste, Sara Y. Del Valle and Carrie A. Manore
    Citation: Infectious Diseases of Poverty 2023 12:47
  8. The goal to eliminate the parasitic disease of poverty schistosomiasis as a public health problem is aligned with the 2030 United Nations agenda for sustainable development goals, including universal health co...

    Authors: Sarah Katharina Gruninger, Tahinamandranto Rasamoelina, Rivo Andry Rakotoarivelo, Anjarasoa Ravo Razafindrakoto, Zaraniaina Tahiry Rasolojaona, Rodson Morin Rakotozafy, Patrick Richard Soloniaina, Njary Rakotozandrindrainy, Pia Rausche, Cheick Oumar Doumbia, Anna Jaeger, Alexandre Zerbo, Heidrun von Thien, Philipp Klein, Govert van Dam, Egbert Tannich…
    Citation: Infectious Diseases of Poverty 2023 12:44
  9. Universal access to basic sanitation remains a global challenge, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. Efforts are underway to improve access to sanitation in informal settlements, often through sh...

    Authors: Vitor Pessoa Colombo, Jérôme Chenal, Fred Orina, Hellen Meme, Jeanne d’Arc Amoin Koffi, Brama Koné and Jürg Utzinger
    Citation: Infectious Diseases of Poverty 2023 12:34
  10. Neglected tropical diseases affect the most vulnerable populations and cause chronic and debilitating disorders. Socioeconomic vulnerability is a well-known and important determinant of neglected tropical dise...

    Authors: Arthur Ramalho Magalhães, Cláudia Torres Codeço, Jens-Christian Svenning, Luis E. Escobar, Paige Van de Vuurst and Thiago Gonçalves-Souza
    Citation: Infectious Diseases of Poverty 2023 12:32
  11. The term virus ‘spillover’ embodies a highly complex phenomenon and is often used to refer to viral transmission from a primary reservoir host to a new, naïve yet susceptible and permissive host species. Spill...

    Authors: Luis E. Escobar, Andres Velasco-Villa, Panayampalli S. Satheshkumar, Yoshinori Nakazawa and Paige Van de Vuurst
    Citation: Infectious Diseases of Poverty 2023 12:10
  12. China is progressing towards the goal of schistosomiasis elimination, but there are still some problems, such as difficult management of infection source and snail control. This study aimed to develop deep lea...

    Authors: Jing-Bo Xue, Shang Xia, Xin‑Yi Wang, Lu-Lu Huang, Liang-Yu Huang, Yu-Wan Hao, Li-Juan Zhang and Shi-Zhu Li
    Citation: Infectious Diseases of Poverty 2023 12:6
  13. Visceral leishmaniasis (VL) is one of the most important neglected tropical diseases. Although VL was controlled in several regions of China during the last century, the mountain-type zoonotic visceral leishma...

    Authors: Zhuowei Luo, Zhengbin Zhou, Yuwan Hao, Jiaxin Feng, Yanfeng Gong, Yuanyuan Li, Yun Huang, Yi Zhang and Shizhu Li
    Citation: Infectious Diseases of Poverty 2022 11:122