More people are at risk of infectious diseases than at any other time on history. Infectious diseases are worldwide problem requiring worldwide attention. Infectious diseases can weaken the strength of a nation’s resources. In developing nations this poses even a greater threat. Diseases are threatening the economic stability of many developing nations. 50,000 people die everyday from infectious disease.
Rift Valley Fever infects both livestock and humans. Rift Valley Fever is most commonly found in regions of eastern and southern Africa. It also exists in Madagascar and sub-Saharan Africa. The Bunyaviridae family includes the Rift Valley Fever disease. It is primarily spread from infected mosquitoes, who then infect animals. Generally they infect domestic animals, such as buffalo, cattle, sheep, camels and goats. Once the livestock are infected, other mosquitoes can spread the disease. It is also possible that the infection can be spread from other biting insects.
The Rift Valley Fever outberak of 1997-1998 in eastern Africa killed both humans and livestock. It economically hurt trase in animals and the dairy indusrty.. the economy was crushed by trade imbargoes. Humans can get Rift Valley Fever in numerous ways. Humans can be infected from the mosquitoes or the bodily fluids of the infected animal. Contact such as slaughtering the infected animal can occur also. Symptoms include, an infuenza like illness, fever, liver abnormalities, muscle and back pain and vomitting. In the early stages of Rift Valley Fever, these symptoms are some times mistaken for meningitis. This fever may also perceive itself to be haemorrhagic fever. Fatalities occur mostly in patients who have developed haemorrhagic fever.
In diagnosing Rift Valley Fever, tests have demostrated the presence of antibodies to the disease. Studies in animals have given antiviral drugs for the use of humans. Herdsman and animal workers in areas where Rift Valley Fever is present are at a greater risk of being infected. The risk of transmission can be reduced by, wearing gloves, insect repellent, the use of protective clothes, and avoiding outdoor activity during peak biting times. Surveillance is important to form effective measures for reducing the number of infections.
Cholera is a diarrheal illness that is spread by contaminated water and food. It is caused by an infection of the intestine, and in many cases it can be very severe. It is characterized by lavish watery diahehrea, leg cramps and vomiting. Rapid loss of body fluids leads to dehydration and shock. The agent that causes cholera is the bacterium Vibrio cholerae, which was discovered by Robert Koch in1883. Without proper treatment, death can occur within hours. Even though, Cholera can be prevented very easily. In regions of the world with advanced water and sanitation systems, cholera is less widespread. In highly endemic areas, it is mainly a disease of young children. When cholera occurs in unprepared communities, the fatality rate can be up to 50%, usually because there are no facilities for treatment. The cholera epidemic of January 1991 started in South America and quickly spread to eleven countries.
The source of contamination is most commonly found in the excrement of an infected person. The disease can spread rapidly in areas with insufficient treatment of sewage and drinking water. The disease is not likely to spread from one person to another through casual contact with an infected person. Cholera can be successfully treated by the replacement of the salts and fluids lost through diarrhea. People can be treated with oral rehydration. This is used throughout the world to treat diarrhea. Some treatment consists of packets containing the correct mixture of sodium, potassium, chloride, bicarbonate, and glucose have been made widely available by the WHO. Most patients recover in three to six days. Antibiotics such as tetracyclines, ampicillin, chloramphenicol, and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole can shorten the duration of the disease. Antibiotics diminish the discomfort of the illness, but they are not as effective as rehydration.
Severe cases also require fluid replacement. People who develop severe diarrhea and vomiting should seek medical attention immediately. Fewer than 1% of cholera patients die with rehydration.
Control of the disease is still a major medical problem in several countries. The World Health Organization estimates that 78 percent of the population in less developed countries is without clean water and 85 percent without adequate fecal waste disposal(1). Epidemics of cholera occurred in 1953 in Calcutta, India; between 1964 and 1967 in South Vietnam; among Bangladeshi refugees fleeing to India during the civil war of 1971; and in Peru in 1991. The 1971 outbreak killed about 6500 persons.
In some epidemics, cholera has lasted for more than twenty years. In areas with bad sanitation, a cholera epidemic cannot be stopped right away. Major improvements in sewage and water treatment systems are needed in many countries to prevent epidemic outbreaks. “The foods that cause greatest concern to importing countries are seafood and vegetables that may be consumed raw. However, only rare cases of cholera have occurred as a result of eating food, usually seafood, transported across international borders by individuals(2).” “WHO believes that the best way to deal with food imports from cholera-affected areas is for importing countries to agree, with food exporters, on good hygienic practices which need to be followed during food handling and processing to prevent, eliminate or minimize the risk of any potential contamination; and to set up arrangements to obtain assurance that these measures are adequately carried out(3).”
U.S. and public health authorities are working to improve surveillance for cholera, outbreaks, and design measures to prevent cholera. The Centers for Disease Control is investigating cholera. They are also training laboratory workers the proper techniques for identifying cholera. Also, the Centers for Disease Control is providing information on diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of cholera to public health officials and is educating the public about effective preventive measures (4). The U.S. Agency for International Development is sponsoring some of the international government activities and is providing medical supplies to affected countries. The Environmental Protection Agency is working with water and sewage treatment operators in the United States to prevent contamination of water with the cholera bacterium. The Food and Drug Administration is testing imported shellfish for the cholerae bacterium. With cooperation at the state international levels, assistance will be provided to countries where cholera is widespread, and help keep the risk to U.S. residents to a minimum.
Global development strategies are needed to reduce infectious disease. In the future, infectious diseases are likely to grow in the United States. For the United States cannot ensure safety for its citizens without noting other diseases in the world. If the United States investigates other outbreaks, they can learn how to best prevent and treat diseases prior to them coming to the country. “The United States has an enormous stake in the successful human and development of the poorest countries. As poor countries grow richer, they tend to become the fastest growing markets for United States goods and services. Currently, Developing countries account for 42% of all U.S. exports(5).”
Numerous agencies are involved in efforts to fight infectious disease. Just recently, a task force that was chaired by a number of agencies (CDC, FDA, NIH) developed a blueprint for agencies to develop programs to fight disease. United States agencies are also providing advice and support to the WHO, NGOs, banks and foundations.
There are numerous ways to combat these diseases. Improved education and awareness of the disease is essential in preventing it. NGOs can provide training in these areas. Another way of prevention is improved living conditions. Poor sanitation, overcrowding and malnutrition all contribute to the spread of disease. Sponsored community based programs can prevent disease infection. Housing projects can assist overpopulation. Disease prevention also requires health care programs. International efforts to fight diseases benefits both the United States and the global community. Health emergencies throughout the world will continue, and we must prepared.