Outbreaks Of New Diseases: Swine Flu
Our world is one that is constantly evolving, continuously providing beneficial developments and emerging concepts that allow us to progress, but as our world endlessly changes so do diseases. Over time we have formed an atmosphere in which is ideal for the growth and production of emerging diseases, creating the idyllic circumstances for outbreaks in which could become detrimental to our population. When referring to a disease as emerging, it refers to diseases in which have experienced an incidence rate throughout the past two decades or that presents a threat to undergo a significant incidence increase in the near future. The emergence of these diseases can be due to varying factors such as the discovery of a new agent, re-emerging pathogens with new characteristics, or the establishment that a present disease has infectious properties (Jones et al, 2008). With higher density populations, climate condition changes, increased international travel, and the changes in human’s susceptibility and behaviours, our current population provides ideal conditions for these diseases to become present and emerge at alarming rates (Van Doorn, 2014). Throughout this essay I will be addressing the way in which our current civilization has become more prone to infectious diseases, discussing certain current infectious disease outbreaks, looking into the ways in which we have come about this due to our own effects, and examining the reasons in which as a society we are more venerable and susceptible to outbreaks.
When referring to infectious diseases and pathogens there is two origins, these being zoonotic and non-zoonotic. Zoonotic pathogens are the most common origin of pathogens and refers to those that emerge through an animal and spread to human through human to animal interference, environmental aspects can also play a part in this form of transmission along with the use of vectors and hosts. The other origin is non-zoonotic, which is much rarer and does not involve an animal but rather just human-to-human interaction (Van Doorn, 2014). It is known that of all emerging infectious diseases 70% of which come from zoonotic origins, this being relevant to diseases such as SARS, AIDS and Ebola which have affected our society in recent times (Dibble et al, 2016). Due to this zoonotic origin the factor of climate change has a significant part in the reasoning behind the modern society’s vulnerability to infectious disease outbreaks. As our world develops so does our knowledge and along with that comes the new technology. With the access to a broader range of technological devices and advances in technology that have become necessities to life we have experienced a substantial rise in the levels of energy in which mankind uses. Consequently, due to these major increases in energy usage levels excessive quantities of greenhouse gas emersion enters our atmosphere, subsequently leading to global warming. Global warming has led to a negative effect upon the climate of our planet, raising the average temperature dramatically, and leading to the development of climatic conditions in which are ideal for the growth and spread of infectious diseases. (McMichael 2006). Due to this temperature rise the current climatic conditions act as the perfect environment for pathogen growth and transmission. With a significant rise in the rate in which pathogens are reproducing and transmitting from host to host, the mortality rate increases alongside (Kuhn et al. 2005).
One of the most significant examples of this taking place is the infectious diseases known as Ebola, Zika Virus and Dengue Fever which have seen both significant spreads and rises in infection rates throughout the past decades (Hotez, 2016). This being due to these infectious diseases coming from a zoonotic origin and using a mosquito vector to transmit the disease. As we experience this gradual increase in temperature and a rise in rainfall, it makes for more humid conditions in which we are encountering on a more regular basis, providing the perfect conditions for these vector borne diseases to be transmitted contributing majorly to the raises in incidences and spreads of these diseases. (Sachan, 2010) The issue of climate change also poses a daunting problem for the future, as our climatic conditions continue to change and shift, we are provided with great unpredictability as of what conditions may come. With this in mind it the factor of climate change could impact infectious disease transmission majorly as the climatic conditions continue to adapt in ways suitable for increased transmission and pathogen growth. (Choi et al. 2016).
Another substantial factor in the effect in which infectious diseases poses on our modern-day society is that of our higher density populations. By 2050 our worldwide population is expected to grow by between 2-4 billion people, this causing an increase in what is already a very dense population. As an advanced population we are continuously growing, and developing, creating new ways of housing to allow for more dense population in smaller areas (Cohen, 2003). Throughout the past decades, we have seen significant rises in population growth as well as a progression in human behaviour which has led to more human-to-human contact prevalent among society. The pathogens in which spread infectious diseases has a higher rate of transmission among humans when people are closer together and taking part in more constant contact between each other. When natural disasters occur, many people become displaced and forced to relocate to areas in which they are often not housed or present in, this leads to an increase in overcrowding throughout certain communities (Watson et al. 2007). As well as overcrowding in certain areas, there is also the factor of large facilities in which become shelter to sizable quantities of people causing a significant increase in human interaction within close premises. These two factors combine can cause a noticeable rise in the transmission and production of infectious diseases (Nasci, 1998). An example of when this became evident is following the volcanic eruption of Mt. Pinatubo, Philippines that took place in 1991 (Watson et al. 2007). During this time in the wake of the natural disaster, there was a recording of around 18,000 cases of the disease measles, within the Philippine population that had become displaced and forced to relocated or take shelter due to the eruption (Surmieda et al, 1992). This shows the evident impact in which the high-density populations and increased human-to-human contact can take on the spread of infectious diseases. As the population of our wide continues to rise, and the inhabited area not adapting to this, higher-density areas are becoming more prominent, leading to future outbreaks appearing to become more frequent and more devastating.
Transport and Travel
Due to our ever-advancing technological devices our civilization has access to forms of transport in which past generations never would’ve even dreamed off. As a result, people of today’s age are able to transport between not only cities and towns faster and more accessibly but have provided us with the ability to fly from different countries in just hours, bringing the world’s population closer together than ever before. This is just another way in which the modern world has increased human to human contact and is therefore at greater risk of attaining an infectious disease. Despite the many perks of these technological advances in the way in which we transport, they have also brough upon us many new global health epidemics. This factor is evident in today’s society at this exact moment as we endure the impacts of Covid-19, that is a new pathogen that was founded in 2019 in Wuhan, China and has now become a worldwide epidemic. Covid-19 was discovered in late December of 2019, and by February 2020 there was already over 60000 cases and 1500 deaths due to the infectious disease and had spread to many countries worldwide (Xu et al, 2020). As well as this only a decade ago on 2009 we saw the rise of Swine Flu a new infectious disease that was developed and cause effected a vast proportion of our world. Swine Flu disease was initially discovered in California, USA in the April of 2009, however by August 2009, over 200 countries had officially reported cases of the infection, with 182,166 cases worldwide in only 5 months, with the mortalities rising to nearly 1800 (Sinha 2009). The infection spread at a drastic rate, and by the end of August it was formally designated by the World Health Organization as a pandemic (Singer, 2009). Swine flu was found to be a mix of both a human and swine influenza, this resulting in the human body have very little, if any immunity to the disease. This contributed to not only the mortality rate but also the incidence and prevalence levels as the infectious disease spread at rapid rates in which were unable to be contained or treated (Butler, 2009). The disease was spread via human to human transmission, by the inhalation of large infectious droplets transported through the air, because of this it was concluded that the close contact of the current society and the frequent international travels the people of today endured in to be the most likely cause of the pandemics such tragic transmission and effects (Sachan, 2010). This pandemic allowed the world to grasp an idea on the rapid pace at which an infectious disease could spread, not only within one country but around the world, due to current day accessibility to transportation. This issue is one that will only increase as the advances in technology continue to arise, and travel between countries becomes quicker and cheaper making it more accessible and allowing more and more people to do so. This poses an extremely concerning impact to the future of infectious diseases as the transmission rates in the future will be far more then previously seen and as the world continues to get closer and closer very few infectious wills be able to be contained within boundaries.
As previously stated, it is evident that the current and future population are at a much higher risk then previous decades of experiencing infectious disease outbreaks. The increase in incidence and transmission rates are primarily due to factors brought on by the modern society themselves and factors in which we have created including things such as, population density, higher rates of international travel, human behaviours and climate change as a result of global warning all major aspects of the rise in infectious disease potential risk. To conclude, I believe that is exceedingly evident that without change or advances in science both modern society and the future population of our world face a high risk of experiencing more infectious disease outbreaks, of which will have more detrimental effect on us as a civilisation then previously seen.
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