What is with the dramatic increase in illnesses and diseases lately?
Both 2017 and 2018 have proven to be years where there were massive outbreaks of harmful illnesses after epidemics including the Ebola virus, the Zika virus, and SARS. Today, scientists and health professionals are remaining vigilant, as recent discoveries of dangerous pathogens heighten the probability of future diseases that countries around the globe are unprepared for. In the meantime, even common illnesses seem to be growing more intense.
So far, the 2017-2018 flu season has been more aggressive than others, considering that the season’s vaccine is only 36% effective against most strains, and only 25% effective against the most severe strain, H3N2. In comparison, Australia’s vaccine for the same strain is only 10% effective, while Canada’s vaccine is only 17% effective. In America, the outbreak has resulted in the deaths of 114 children as of March, according to the Center for Disease Control & Prevention. It is the most severe flu outbreak since the swine flu pandemic of 2009.
Earlier this year, the World Health Organization announced that it will hasten its research of “Disease X,” which is their concept of newly emerging pathogens that lead to fatal diseases that we do not yet have cures for. The announcement was made along with the WHO’s revelation that they would classify as major global threats, diseases including, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF), the Ebola virus, the Marburg virus, Lassa fever, Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Nipah and henipaviral disease, Rift Valley fever (RVF), and the Zika virus.
On May 1st, a report by the Center for Disease Control & Prevention showed that the rate of vector-borne diseases have tripled in the last 14 years. Vector-borne diseases are illnesses that are obtained from mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas. They cause more than 700,000 deaths annually. In a May 4th report, the CDC warned of 7 tick-borne diseases that are rapidly becoming more prevalent. The diseases include Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Powassan (POW) virus, tularemia, and babesiosis.
Later, on May 8th, it was revealed that Australia is experiencing an increase of over 40% in the rate of human T-cell leukemia virus type 1, a deadly disease, also known as HTLV-1. The disease is a cousin of HIV and once contracted, leads to leukemia or lymphoma. It can be contracted from breastfeeding, unprotected sex, and blood contact. It is classified as an STI since it can be spread through sex. Their is no cure or treatment for the disease and doctors around the world are demanding to know why there has not been research done on preventing and treating it.
After analyzing the multitude of rapidly rising diseases and illnesses that are currently facing society , it is clear how badly supplementary research is needed to ensure that we are fully prepared to take on the growing risk of dangerous disease epidemics. Until then, the CDC has published a report on stopping the spread of germs, and another report on avoiding tick-borne diseases, to supply us with the methods that can be utilized to be successful in disease prevention.