Saturday, June 1, 2013

Novel infectious diseases in the 21st Century

This blog will provide personal observations and speculations about current novel infectious diseases. When people contract an infectious disease for which they do not have any natural defense or immunity the disease is called a novel infectious disease.  Generally these infections are zoonoses [1], diseases that are transmitted between animal sources and humans.

In the past decade, a number of novel infectious diseases have erupted around the world including SARS, influenza A(H5N1) [bird flu], and the 2009 H1N1 pandemic virus. In the past 12-14 months, two new diseases have jumped to humans from unknown animal sources. 

 Since April of 2012, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) has claimed the lives of at least 30 people and infected more than 20 others in eight different countries including France, Italy, Jordan, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom [2]. In the past 60-90 days, avian influenza A(H7N9) [also known as bird flu] has infected more than 130 individuals in the People’s Republic of China and Taiwan [3]. 

Every novel infectious disease has the potential to grow into an epidemic and, from there, into a global pandemic. Every outbreak of a novel infectious disease needs to be monitored very closely.


[1] WHO zoonoses

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