WASHINGTON, D.C.- Infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and Malaria receive much global attention and many aid organizations also fund intervention, prevention and research projects aimed at these diseases. Emerging infectious diseases are diseases that have been recently discovered which require new research to be conducted into their causes and potential treatments.
Some emerging infectious diseases receive a lot of publicity; Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, for example, but many others receive very little attention. Re-emerging infectious diseases, on the other hand, are diseases that had died down to the point where they were no longer considered a public health threat until recently reappearing, often in developing countries.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Global Disease Detection and Emergency Response Unit exists to protect Americans and the global community from these types of diseases by detecting and containing public health threats, deploying health experts during outbreaks and promoting policies that increase public health. Here are some of the lesser known emerging and re-emerging diseases.
Australian Bat Lyssavirus – Australian Bat Lyssavirus is a serious virus that is spread from bats to humans. Discovered in 1996 in several species of bats, this strain of Lyssavirus is similar to the rabies virus, having already killed three people since 1996 after having been bitten by an infected bat. Symptoms include paralysis, delirium, convulsions and death.
Bartonella Infection – Baronella is a bacteria that can cause several types of diseases in humans. Cat Scratch Disease is spread by cats, normally kittens, to humans and causes fever, enlarged lymph nodes and pustules at the infection site. Trench Fever is spread by the human body louse and is found worldwide. Though Trench Fever originated in the trenches during World War I, this version of Bartonella is commonly associated with poor and homeless populations. Symptoms of Trench Fever include headaches, fever, rash and bone pain.
Kaposi’s Sarcoma –Kaposi’s sarcoma associated herpes virus is a cancer caused by the herpesvirus 8 and was first discovered in 1994. It is unknown how the virus is spread but people with suppressed immune systems such as AIDS and cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy often become infected. Symptoms typically include tumors or skin lesions while respiratory lesions also sometimes occur and can cause shortness of breath, coughing and fever. Furthermore, gastrointestinal lesions lead to weight loss, nausea/vomiting and diarrhea. Kaposi’s sarcoma comes in several forms, Classic KS, endemic KS, HIV related KS and Immunosuppressant related KS. Moreover, endemic KS is not associated with the HIV virus and occurs mainly in young people in sub Saharan Africa.
Enterovirus 71 – Enterovirus 71 is a re-emerging infectious disease that was first discovered in California in 1969 and causes outbreaks of severe neurological symptoms in children. Symptoms include rash, fever and respiratory problems but the disease is also known to cause severe neurological symptoms and sudden death. There have been outbreaks in Australia, China and Cambodia in recent years. In fact, in 2012, 66 children became infected in Cambodia, only two of which survived.
– Lisa Toole
Sources: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization
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