Joe Alton MD and Amy Alton ARNP often talk about infectious diseases on the Survival Medicine Hour, a number of which are called emerging infectious diseases.
Emerging infectious diseases are infections that have recently appeared within a population or those whose frequency or geographic range is increasing or likely to increase in the near future. They say there’s nothing new under the sun, so how is this possible? Emerging infections can be caused by:
Previously undetected or unknown infectious agents (SARS, MERS)
Known agents that have spread to new geographic locations or new populations (Zika, Ebola, Chikungunya)
Previously known agents whose role in specific diseases has previously gone unrecognized. (like some viruses now being thought responsible for certain illnesses)
Re-emergence of agents whose incidence of disease had significantly declined in the past but whose incidence of disease has reappeared, say measles. This group is known as re-emerging infectious diseases.
Asian Tiger Mosquito
The World Health Organization warned in its 2007 report that infectious diseases are emerging at a rate that has not been seen before. Since the 1970s, about 40 infectious diseases have been discovered, including SARS, MERS, Ebola, chikungunya, avian flu, swine flu and, most recently, Zika.
More information on emerging infectious disease can be heard on this episode of the Survival Medicine Hour!