Humans are affected by an impressive diversity of microbial pathogens. More than 60 bacteria families contain human pathogens; the enterobacteria and mycobacteria account for the most species and for the emerging and re-emerging species "Emerging diseases" are diseases whose incidence has increased within the past two decades or threatens to increase in the near future. Several factors have been considered to this emergence such as: global travel, globalization of food supply and centralized processing of foods, population growth and increased urbanization and crowding, population movement due to civil wars, famines and other man-made or natural disasters, irrigation, deforestation and reforestation projects that alter habits of disease-carrying insects, increased use of antimicrobial agents and pesticides, hastening the development of resistance and changes in human habits and behavior.
The above-mentioned factors created new possibilities for the spread of new microorganisms which are pathogenic to man and animals. Changes in microbial populations have led to the evolution of new pathogens, development of new virulence factors for existing pathogens, development of antibiotic resistance, which could make a disease more difficult to treat or to changes in environmental conditions that organisms will normally tolerate. Poorly regulated antimicrobial use during animal and aquaculture production can pose human health hazards. Because of globalization of the food supply and increasing international travel, multi-resistant organisms can spread to all parts of the world. A change in human demographics means that there are now more people with increased susceptibility to food borne and other diseases such as pregnant women, neonates, elderly (over 65 years), and residents in nursing homes or related health care facilities, cancer patients, organ transplant patients, AIDS patients, among others. Changes in food production have also created similar problems to those outlined on the migration of people with new or altered pathogens having the potential to be introduced into new populations. In the event of disasters, enteric pathogens are likely to be present posing greater risks on the very young and the very old.
This presentation will discuss common bacterial enteric pathogens in disasters and natural calamities as well as other "emerging" enteric pathogens which may affect the population at risk in such situations.