Animal Africa Trypanosomiasis (AAT) – see nagana
Antivirals – drugs used specifically for treating viral infections. Unlike most antibiotics, antiviral drugs do not destroy their target pathogen. Instead they inhibit their development.
Arbovirus – a group of viruses transmitted by arthropod vectors. The word is a shortened form of ‘arthropod-borne virus’.
Biodiversity – a measure of the variety of organisms present. This includes ecosystem, genetic, and cultural diversity, and the connections between these and all species.
Climate change – warming of the planet as greenhouse gases accumulate in the atmosphere affecting the geographic range and seasonality of infectious diseases, disturbing food-producing ecosystems, increasing the frequency of extreme weather events, etc.
Communicable disease – infectious diseases caused by pathogenic micro-organisms, such as bacteria, viruses, parasites or fungi. The diseases can be spread, directly or indirectly.
Disease surveillance – see epidemiology
Disease transmission – the passing of a communicable disease from an infected host to another individual or group. The term usually refers to direct transmission by one or more of the following means:

  • droplet contact – coughing or sneezing on another person
  • direct physical contact – touching an infected person
  • indirect physical contact – touching contaminated soil or a contaminated surface.
  • airborne transmission – if the micro-organism can remain in the air for long periods
  • faecal-oral transmission –from contaminated food or water source

Drivers – are defined as factors that may influence the evolution, transmission, or distribution of infectious diseases (often at higher scales). They may lead to creation of new diseases, or act as threat multipliers by exacerbating existing vulnerabilities. Drivers are essential to understanding system dynamics, and commonly changes in a driver can change both the frequency and intensity of shocks that a system experiences.
Ecosystem – a naturally occurring community of organisms, such as plants and animals, functioning as a unit in their environment.
Ecosystem services – services that ecosystems provide, which benefit human needs and wellbeing, commonly divided into provisioning, regulating, supporting and cultural services.
El Niño (ENSO) – El Niño/La Niña Southern Oscillation. A large-scale ocean-atmosphere phenomenon influencing the global climate variability at inter-annual time scales. It is characterised by temperature variations in the surface of the Pacific Ocean and air surface pressure where the warm phase is called El Niño and the opposite is called La Niña.
Emerging disease – a disease that has appeared in a population for the first time, or that may have existed previously but is rapidly increasing in incidence or geographic range.
Endemic – a disease regularly found in a population.
Epidemic – a disease outbreak with more cases than would normally be expected in a defined community, geographical area or season. It may occur in a restricted geographical area, or may extend over several countries. It may last for a few days or weeks, or for several years.
Epidemiology – the study of the distribution and determinants of health-related states or events, including diseases, and how to control these. Various methods can be used: surveillance and descriptive studies to study distribution; analytical studies to study determinants.
Habitat degredation (destruction) – the process in which natural habitats are reduced so that they are unable to support the species present. In this process, the organisms that previously used the site are displaced or destroyed, reducing biodiversity.  Common causes are harvesting natural resources, urbanisation, or clearing habitats for agriculture.
Henipavirus – a viral, potentially fatal disease of the genus of RNA viruses and consists of both Hendra virus and Nipah virus. The natural reservoir hosts of henipaviruses are pteropid bats.
Host – a cell or an organism which harbours another organism or entity, usually a parasite.  
Human Africa Trypanosomiasis (HAT) – or sleeping sickness is a widespread tropical disease that can be fatal if not treated. It is spread by the bite of an infected tsetse fly (Glossina genus).
Lassa fever – An acute haemorrhagic disease caused by the Lassa virus, which is endemic in Mastomys natalensis, a common rodent in West Africa. It is transmitted to people chiefly via rodent excretia but human-to-human contamination is also possible.
Nagana –a rapidly fatal trypanosomiasis of horses and other animals.
One Health – the transdisciplinary collaboration to attain optimal health for people, animals and the environment. Synonymous with Conservation Medicine, though this term is more often used by veterinarians.
Pandemic – epidemics that have spread to many countries, often on more than one continent, and usually affecting a large number of people.
Parasite – invertebrate organisms that live on or in another organism (the host), and benefit at the expense of the other.
Pathogen – any disease-causing agent, e.g. a bacterium, virus or fungus.
Reservoir –the long-term host of an infectious disease pathogen. Reservoirs often do not get the disease or carry it as asymptomatic or a subclinical infection.
Rift Valley fever (RVF) – a viral zoonotic disease of the Phlebovirus type that can cause severe illness in people and animals. It can be spread by touching animal blood, drinking raw milk or by the bite of infected mosquitoes.
Resilience – The capacity to cope with or recover from the consequences of disasters, usually divided into absorbing capacity, buffering capacity and response/recovery capacity.
Scenario –fictitious, but illustrative plausible stories (not projections) of what might happen based on given assumptions in a chosen settings.
Sleeping sickness – see trypanosomiasis
Spillover – a secondary effect that follows from a primary effect. However, it may be far in time or place from the cause of the primary effect.
Trypanosomiasis – a disease endemic among people and animals in Central Africa. It is caused by various species of trypanosomes, particularly T. gambiense and T. rhodesiense. Its second host is the tsetse fly.
Vaccine –a biological formula that improves immunity to a particular disease, typically containing an agent that resembles a disease-causing micro-organism. The agent stimulates the body's immune system to recognise it as foreign, destroy it, and ‘remember’ it, so that the immune system can later recognise and destroy these micro-organisms.
Vector – any agent (though usually an insect) that carries and transmits a pathogen to a host.
Zoonosis – infectious diseases humans acquire from vertebrate animals. A zoonosis may be bacterial, viral, or parasitic, or may involve unconventional agents.

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