The leader of infectious disease research in the U.S. government says that the pandemic of Zika virus spreading across the global south, which may be causing an epidemic of birth defects in South America, heralds a new kind of infectious disease threat. It is exploding at the same time and in the same areas as other diseases carried by the same vector, mosquitoes—and thus demonstrates that it is no longer enough to be prepared to counter one disease at a time.
There’s been quite a bit of attention focused on the microbiome. Back in 1988, it was defined as the community of all microbial living organisms within a particular habitat. But over the years, the scope of the term has contracted to mean for the most part only bacteria. It’s not really a surprise as most work to understand the microbial environment within each environment, including the human body, has focused on this one branch of the tree of life.