Emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) impose a burden on economies and public health. Because EIDs on wildlife are mainly affected by environmental and ecological factors, the study of EIDs in wildlife provides valuable insights to improve our understanding on their causes and their impact on global health. Malaria is an EID that has increased its prevalence in the last few decades at an alarming rate. Avian malaria parasites are abundant, widespread and diverse, which turn these parasites into an excellent model for the study of EIDs. In the face of new health and environmental challenges in the twenty- irst century, studies on avian malaria will provide new approaches for this old disease. The identfiication of essential genes for the malaria invasion, the study of modification of host behaviour by malaria parasites in order to promote the parasite transmission, and the knowledge of factors contributing to the emergence of infectious diseases in wildlife are essential for understanding parasite epidemiology, local patterns of virulence and evolution of host resistance. In this chapter, we will review the results of some recent investigations on these topics that will be useful for predicting and preventing EIDs in wildlife, livestock and humans.
Part of the book: Current Topics in Malaria