We are seeing the impact of increases in the ease of global travel occurring simultaneously with the potential rapid spread of infectious disease. As we are now midway through the busy summer vacation travel season and only a week away from the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, where millions will attend, this is a very real concern to the general population and medical providers worldwide.
How many of us have ever sat next to or near a sick person on an airplane flight? Or on a train or bus? Ease of travel has spawned a more global society and plays a volatile role in disease emergence and spread. The statistics show increased travel distances by automobiles across nations and continents and, coupled to very low fare, long range intercontinental flights are capable of unprecedented speed in moving host-incubated pathogens.
Disease carrying insect and bird migrations are influenced by changes in weather patterns. And commerce-focused rail, truck and ships transporting goods containing diseases are moving at an incredible pace. All of this is not surprising. The speed of modern transportation and ongoing mutation of some of those infectious diseases make the traditional strategies of disease control, decontamination, antibiotics, patient isolation and quarantine increasingly less effective. Logically we can expect the continued proliferation of communicable disease pandemics, disease vector invasions and vector-borne disease movements.