Hungary might be the first country to develop a defence strategy based on ecological principles.
Climate change facilitates the settlement of several pathogens to new areas and new organisms, thereby encouraging the emergence of epidemics in humans, domestic animals and crops.
However, the spread of pathogens can be stopped by special ecological methods – including the so-called DAMA protocol – whose application might be realised first by Hungary.
In addition to climate change, urbanization and globalization also have a positive effect on the survival and spread of pathogens. The recently emerging diseases are considered to be ecological problems; furthermore, in practical terms, today it means security threat for every country – especially for inhabitants of technologically advanced large cities.
Since we cannot stop or reverse the phenomenon, it is essential to be prepared for the most significant impacts and work out an appropriate defence strategy. One way to realise this is the development of defence strategies based on ecological principles. The Ecological Research Center is the first to use the so-called DAMA (Document, Assess, Check, Act) protocol in practice.
As the Hungarian news portal magyarnemzet.hu reports,
the procedure enables professionals to document and analyse by molecular biological methods, the spread and ecological distribution of pathogens and vertebrate hosts.
Their survivability and the risk of infection will be easily determined in the modern world surrounded by environmental conditions. The concept was developed by an international expert team, based on the work of Daniel R. Brooks, an American professor who spent most of his time in Hungary in the last 10 years.
Based on the protocol, mapping has been already realised in some smaller areas – such as the hedgehog population of Margaret Island – however, the entire country has not been monitored yet – said Gábor Földvári, researcher of the Ecological Research Center.
Biting mosquitos are among the most critical sources of pathogens. Nearly one million deaths are caused by them every year – mostly in tropical areas; but in the last few years, it has concerned the European continent as well. Due to the globalisation of trade, several non-native mosquito species got into Europe that can diffuse more dangerous pathogens than the European species.
In Hungary, three indigenous mosquito species have been observed in the last ten years – the Asian tiger mosquito, another Asian mosquito and the Korean mosquito.
Another dangerous source of pathogens are ticks. The bloodsucker diffuses dozens of viruses, bacteria and protozoan parasites that spread the bacterium of Lyme disease. Due to the significant number of migratory birds, several non-native species of ticks get into Hungary from Africa and southern Europe.
According to Gábor Földvári, the new protocol enables professionals to identify and continuously monitor the most critical pathogen vectors, beyond ticks and mosquitoes.
The researchers follow the epidemiological urban hubs, the newly emerging invasive species in the domestic fauna and the caused diseases. The aim of the Hungarian researchers is the successful implementation of DAMA-protocol and its expansion into the international research network later on.
As a result, specific pathogens and the emergence of potential pandemic outbreaks can be predicted in advance.