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Emerg Infect Dis. 1997 Oct-Dec;3(4):435-41.

Emergence of new pathogens as a function of changes in host susceptibility.

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  • 1University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore 21201, USA.


A pathogen may emerge as an important public health problem because of changes in itself or its transmission pathways. Alternatively, a microorganism may emerge as a pathogen or acquire new public health importance because of changes in host susceptibility to infection. Factors influencing host susceptibility within the population as a whole include increases in the number of immunocompromised patients; increased use of immunosuppressive agents, particularly among persons receiving cancer chemotherapy or undergoing organ transplantation; aging of the population; and malnutrition. In considering the emergence of foodborne pathogens and designing interventions to limit their spread, the susceptibility of these population subgroups to specific infections should be taken into account.

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