You would think that in
2020 we’d have everything figured out. You would expect cures for illnesses,
vaccines for viruses and no deadly outbreaks of horrible diseases. But we don’t
live in an ideal world. In fact, there’s a new pandemic called the nCoV-2019 in
China and the past decade was full of horrible disease outbreaks that infected
hundreds of thousands of people and killed many of them too. Let’s take a look
at 8 biggest infectious disease outbreaks of the last
decade and learn a little about how to identify them and how to protect
ourselves from them.
1. Bird Flu – Avian influenza (H7N9)
We remember the big outbreak of bird flu. It originated in China and there were several flare-ups in other countries in the past decade. The virus can affect birds, animals and humans, but in most cases, it’s limited to birds. However, if humans come in contact with infected birds or handle raw poultry meat without reasonable precautions they can become infected. The first symptoms are very flu-like: cough, fever, runny nose, muscle aches. But this virus progresses faster than flu and if it goes untreated can cause pneumonia, sepsis, organ failure and can be deadly. The best way to prevent it is to stay away from infected birds, and properly (fully) cook poultry and eggs. If symptoms are caught early one the disease is fully treatable.
There was a massive outbreak of Ebola in West Africa in 2014 that killed a lot of people. The disease is caused by the Ebola virus, the origin of which is not exactly determined but scientists agree that it most likely came from bats. It is spread only by coming in contact with a contaminated person’s blood or bodily fluids. It’s not airborne. The early symptoms are similar to regular flu and include fatigue, fever, muscle pain, sore throat, headache, but as the disease progresses the symptoms become worse. Nausea, diarrhea, and extreme unexplained bleeding follow and if untreated it’s deadly. There is no vaccine or approved medicine for Ebola but supportive hospital care can improve the likelihood of survival. Experimental meds are being tested and some are pending approval.
This might be shocking,
but Plague is still around. Yeah, that horrible “Black Death” that wiped out
half of Europe in the 14th century still exists and there’s usually about
1000-2000 cases every year around the world. These days there’s a medicine that
cures it, of course, but it’s still a horrible disease that is fatal if not
treated. There was an outbreak of it in Madagascar in 2017 and in fact,
Madagascar has plagued season every year. Plague is caused by bacteria called
Yersinia pestis which is transmitted from rodents to humans via rodent fleas.
There are three types of plague bubonic, pneumonic, and septicemic and all
three are extremely dangerous and fatal if untreated.
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