Zoonotic epidemics and pandemics have become frequent. From HIV/AIDS through COVID-19, they demonstrate that pandemics are social processes as well as health occurrences. The roots of these pandemics lie in changes in the socioeconomic interface between humanity and non-human host species that facilitate interspecies transmission. The degree to which zoonoses spread has been increased by the greater speed and extent of modern transportation and trade. Pre-existing sociopolitical and economic structures and conflicts in societies also affect pathogen propagation. As an epidemic develops, it can itself become a social and political factor, and change and interact with pre-existing sociobehavioral norms and institutional structures. This paper uses a “Big Events” approach to frame these processes. Based on this framework, we discuss how social readiness surveys implemented both before and during an outbreak might help public health predict how overall systems might react to an epidemic and/or to disease control measures, and thus might inform interventions to mitigate potential adverse outcomes or possibly preventing outbreaks from developing into epidemics. We conclude by considering what “pathways measures”, in addition to those we and others have already developed, might usefully be developed and validated to assist outbreak and epidemic disease responses.
Emerging zoonotic infections, social processes and their measurement and enhanced surveillance to improve zoonotic epidemic responses: A “Big Events” perspective
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19 (2), 995. doi: 10.3390/ijerph19020995. PMCID: PMC8776232.