Neu entdeckte Erreger

Die heutige Krise im Bereich der biologischen Vielfalt betrifft nicht allein den Verlust von natürlichen Lebensräumen und aussterbenden Arten. Sie ist zugleich eine Krise neu entdeckter Krankheitserreger (Emerging Infectious Diseases (EIDs)) – wie etwa HIV beim Menschen, Ebola bei Menschen und Gorillas, Westnilvirus und Vogelgrippe bei Menschen und Vögeln, Töpfchenpilzen bei Amphibien und Staupe bei Robben. Wir haben allen Grund, diese Ereignisse ernst zu nehmen, denn EIDs scheinen eine lange Evolutionsgeschichte zu haben.

Das Problem ist, das viele Erreger fähig sind, eine Vielzahl von Wirten zu infizieren, sich jedoch an Orten entwickelt haben, an denen nur einige dieser Wirte leben. Erreger werden darüber hinaus durch spezielle Methoden von einem Wirt auf den anderen übertragen. Falls beispielsweise ein Erreger durch ein in den Baumkronen lebendes Insekt übertragen wird, so werden mögliche Wirte nicht infiziert, solange sie sich ausschließlich am Boden aufhalten.

Für uns Menschen sind HIV, Ebola, Westnilvirus und Vogelgrippe nur die neusten in einer langen Kette von EIDs. Als unsere Vorfahren vor mehr als einer Million Jahren von den afrikanischen Wäldern in die Savannen zogen, entwickelten sie sich schnelle zu schlagkräftigen Jägern. Da sie ihre Beute mit den bereits vorhandenen Fleischfressern teilten, wurden auch sie von Bandwürmern befallen, wie sie ursprünglich nur bei Hyänen, Großkatzen und afrikanischen Wildhunden vorkamen.

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