Emerging Infectious Diseases

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Emerging Infectious Diseases
Megan Jones BIO 101 Final Paper

Over the past few years, it has become quite obvious that Emerging Infectious Diseases (EID) pose a much larger threat than they did thirty years ago. By observing their studies and trends, experts have nearly proven that Emerging Infectious Diseases are not just a thing of the past. Many of these diseases originate in a non-human animal source, also known as zoonoses (zoonotic hosts). It is most important that the experts communicate with the public about the seriousness of EID, in case of an outbreak. Our nation, and world, must recognize the importance of these diseases in order to respond to them as the threat of their expansion grows larger. To be a bit more specific, an Emerging Infectious Disease is one that has appeared in the population before, or has reappeared, and is rapidly increasing. Juan P. Olano, MD and David H. Walker, MD from the Medical Branch at the University of Texas presented their study about these types of diseases. After looking over the time period of 1967 through 2009, their study revealed that there were a total of about 335 infectious agents described. Just a few of these agents that were descried during these years were Rotavirus (1973), HIV-1 (1983), Hepatitis E Virus (1990), and Influenza A H1N1 (2009). Many diseases that were thought to be under control in the past, such as Tuberculosis and Malaria, have recently resurfaced. According to the Health Medical Lab (Interactive Health Education) online, Tuberculosis is easily caught by individuals who have been diagnosed with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). Of course, there are antibiotics to help treat the airborne TB. However, individuals who have reduced access to healthcare, or simply never get tested, cannot be treated. After never being treated, the development of drug-resistant strands of the disease can develop. This leads to the spread of the multi-drug-resistant strands of Tuberculosis, making the problem of Emerging Infectious Diseases even more serious. There are hundreds of other EIDs, other than Tuberculosis. Imagine if each one of these diseases becomes drug-resistant. We must realize the significance of instances like this one and we must also realize that vaccines do not always fix everything. So what is the main cause of the increase in Emerging Infectious Diseases? Well, I can present a few answers to that question. Many studies completed about these types of diseases shows that there are a few factors that could be the reason why they continue to occur in the first place. The main causes are overcrowding, rapid growth in population, and insufficient sanitation. These factors have caused reappearance of vaccine-preventable diseases that have been previously controlled. In undeveloped countries, this problem has been intensified by malnutrition, lack of clean water, and overpopulation. This leads us to the topic of zoonotic EIDs. As earlier presented, zoonotic EIDs, or zoonoses, are those pathogens that have a non-human animal source. According to the “Nature” journal in February of 2008, 60.3% of Emerging Infectious Diseases are caused by these zoonotic agents. Let’s take a look at the disease titled SARS- Sever Acute Respiratory Syndrome. SARS presents “flu-like” symptoms in its victims, and is believed to have been transmitted to humans by a mammal with a cat-like appearance. From November of 2002 to July of 2003, there was a large outbreak of SARS in Hong Kong. Appearing as a pandemic, there were 8,422 cases and 916 deaths worldwide, with the disease effecting about 37 countries. Experts say the disease was contained and has not been present since. However, research has additionally shown that the virus may still be present in animals and this could lead to an outbreak in the future. Many specialists agree that one of the main problems with zoonotic pathogens is the delayed response and reporting of the diseases. In May...
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