- Emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) are recognized as having significant social, economic and ecological costs, threatening human health, food security, wildlife conservation and biodiversity. We review the processes underlying the emergence of infectious disease, focusing on the similarities and differences between conceptual models of disease emergence and biological invasions in general.
- Study of the IUCN's list of the world's worst invaders reveals that disease is cited as a driver behind the conservation, medical or economic impact of nearly a quarter of the species on the data base.
- The emergence of novel diseases in new host species are, in essence, examples of invasions by parasites. Many of the ecological and anthropogenic drivers of disease emergence and classical invasions are also shared, with environmental change and global transport providing opportunities for the introduction and spread of invaders and novel parasites.
- The phases of disease emergence and biological invasions have many parallels; particularly the early and late phases, where demographic and anthropogenic factors are key drivers. However, there are also differences in the intermediate phases, where host–parasite co-evolution plays a crucial role in determining parasite establishment in novel hosts.
- Similar opportunities and constraints on control and management occur at the different phases of invasions and disease emergence. However, exploitation of host immune responses offers additional control opportunities through contact control and vaccination against EIDs. We propose that cross-fertilization between the disciplines of disease emergence and invasion biology may provide further insights into their prediction, control and management.