Archive for the ‘Infectious Disease’ Category
The diseases are, for lack of a better word, so viral that there is a high percentage chance that you will die from the complications. Some of these have preventive measures while others are simply deadly with little chance of survival. To be included on this list, the virus has to have been a major cause of death in history with ranking based on fatality rates and impact worldwide.
This variola virus had many forms and continues to be a required vaccination for many countries. Smallpox in its worse forms – hemorrhagic and flat – had the highest fatality rates with only a 10 percent or less chance of survival. Fortunately this disease has been the only one on this list to be completely eradicated from nature since it is only contagious through humans.
4. Typhoid fever
Perhaps one of the least lethal diseases on this list, the fatality rate of typhoid fever is only 10-30 percent. But the symptoms show up in stages over a period of three weeks and, in most cases, are not fatal. That said, the disease can stay dormant in a person who has overcome it and then be passed on to another person. The most famous case of this was the American cook in the early 1900s known as “Typhoid Mary” Mallon.
Perhaps the scariest virus on this list is one that anyone anywhere can contract – influenza. Luckily, the flu is easily identified and in most countries easily combated. However, young children and the elderly are particularly susceptible to flu. And the most famous strain was the Spanish Flu, which was estimated to have killed 2-5 percent of the human population in 1918-1919. Thankfully that strain has never been seen again; however, the flu virus is famous for mutating from animals to humans.
2. Bubonic Plague
This plague is transmitted through infected fleas and kills about 70 percent of its victims in 4-7 days. The most well known epidemic was the Black Death in Medieval times when it was rumored to have killed about 25 million in Europe alone and another 50 million across the world. The bubonic plague is often characterized by swollen lymph nodes though the modern world has seen few breakouts.
Normally a human gets cholera from eating or drinking infected food or water. And untreated, the disease will progress from massive diarrhea to shock in 4-12 hours and possibly death within 18 hours or several days. Luckily, with oral rehydration therapy, a person can survive from cholera; however, in its most severe form, cholera can kill within three hours. But good sanitation practices can curb an outbreak. As the old saying goes – don’t drink the water – in many underdeveloped countries.
Infectious diseases continue to plague the world’s population. Whether it’s the emergence of a new disease or the recurrence of an old one, it is something that health organizations worldwide must keep track of. For example, consider the avian flu virus that frightened Hong Kong and killed people before it was brought under control. On top of this, a new strain of AIDS was found that has been known to have sickened and killed thousands of people for over 2 decades before AIDS became the worldwide epidemic that it is today. The frequent migration of people and the ease of travel have also led to the easy transmission of diseases from one continent to another.
Infectious diseases don’t care what you look like, nor how much money you make. They infect young and old alike. Infectious diseases create a problem financially, because they become a strain on the health care system when it comes time to treat each patient. Just take a look at what is emerging on the worldwide stage: Hong Kong is reporting the discovery of a new influenza virus. A new virus recently emerged in the UK after someone ate beef possibly tainted with Mad Cow Disease. A brand new drug-resistant strain of tuberculosis was found in HIV patients. The list goes on and on. It has been discovered that a person’s resistance to infection is hereditary, in part.
Emerging threats, new technology, and new science has been released in the recent years, and we need to update our methods to account for this. The new innovations in technology alone are making it easier to track, find, and attempt to get rid of the causes of infections and outbreaks. The U.S. becoming more of a managed care-oriented country, and because of this, these facilities can offer deeper research than the usual hospital. This can often lead to better innovations.
The goal when it comes to infectious diseases needs to be four-fold. First, we must expand the network of health departments, and those departments need to share information with each other regularly. It’s important that health organizations share notes about each other’s progress, research, and challenges. Secondly, we need to smartly identify the risk factors that each emerging diseases and respond in kind to them. Third, training must be provided in infectious disease epidemiology throughout the world. Poorer nations without the access to this type of education will greatly benefit. Finally, global awareness cannot be stressed enough. A commitment to supporting and promoting disease control must be part of any infectious disease prevention program–whether the disease is old or brand new.