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Viral and vector zoonotic exploitation of a homo-sociome memetic complex.

ABSTRACT

As most newly characterized emerging infectious diseases are considered to be zoonotic, a modern pre-eminence ascribed within this classification lies clearly within the viral taxonomic realm. In particular, RNA viruses deserve special concern given their documented impact on conservation biology, veterinary medicine and public health, with an unprecedented ability to promote an evolutionary host-pathogen arms race from the ultimate infection and immunity perspective. However, besides the requisite molecular/gross anatomical and physiological bases for infectious diseases to transmit from one host to another, both viral pathogens and their reservoirs/vectors exploit a complex anthropological, cultural, historical, psychological and social suite that specifically defines the phylodynamics within Homo sapiens, unlike any other species. Some of these variables include the ecological benefits of living in groups, decisions on hunting and foraging behaviours and dietary preferences, myths and religious doctrines, health economics, travel destinations, population planning, political decisions on agricultural product bans and many others, in a homo-sociome memetic complex. Taken to an extreme, such complexities elucidate the underpinnings of explanations as to why certain viral zoonoses reside in neglected people, places and things, whereas others are chosen selectively and prioritized for active mitigation. Canine-transmitted rabies serves as one prime example of how a neglected viral zoonosis may transition to greater attention on the basis of renewed advocacy, social media, local champions and vested international community engagement. In contrast, certain bat-associated and arboviral diseases suffer from basic ignorance and perpetuated misunderstanding of fundamental reservoir and vector ecology tenets, translated into failed control policies that only exacerbate the underlying environmental conditions of concern. Beyond applied biomedical knowledge, epidemiological skills and biotechnical abilities alone, if a homo-sociome memetic complex approach is also entertained in a modern transdisciplinary context, neglected viral zoonosis may be better understood, controlled, prevented and possibly eliminated, in a more holistic One Health context.