Epidemic Diseases

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Throughout the history of mankind there have been many diseases that have spread quickly becoming an epidemic, a lot of these diseases are preventable if only individuals had access to important information pertaining to the spread of the disease. There are many ways to prevent the spread of these diseases and there are many different types of disease with multiple symptoms. According to Medicine.net, an epidemic is the occurrence of more cases of a disease than would be expected in a community or region during a given time period, a sudden severe outbreak of a disease such as SARS. Also epidemic diseases are the classification of a disease that occur as a new case in human population through spreading quickly and extensively by infection, so these kinds of diseases affect many individuals in an area at the same time. Generally epidemic diseases appear and high rate in crowed population, where health conditions are bad and medicinal services can not provided such as in underdeveloped countries, particularly in Africa.

There are some famous examples for epidemic diseases, such as the Black Death during the Medieval Europe and the Great Influenza Pandemic that occurred by the end of First World War. But today, AIDS and Bird Flu are two dangerous epidemic diseases, and let's not forget Ebola Hemorrhagic, West Nile, Mad cow, small pox and H1N1 swine flu. These diseases have been a global problem which has threatened all individuals in the world. AIDS has become a pandemic and has killed millions young and old. According to Burke & Weill, AIDS is a disease that attacks the immune system leading to susceptibility to opportunistic infection and eventually death. AIDS is a great example of a disease which became an epidemic and eventually a pandemic. Additionally, epidemic diseases have occurred as a result of three important factors, which are agent, host, and environment. That is, agents are the cause of epidemic diseases and host increase the effects of diseases and environmental situations permit host exposure to the agent.

“The year 1918 embodied one of the greatest epidemics in the history of mankind. By year's end, 50 million innocent lives would be taken by a virus, including over 600,000 in the United States alone (Simonsen, 1997). The virus was influenza and it spanned the entire globe in 1918. It is known as the worst influenza epidemic ever. The virus caused sickness, death, and grief to every part of the world. One of the most shocking aspects of the 1918 influenza virus was how quickly and easily it spread. One person infected with the virus could spread it to hundreds by simply coughing. What made matters and the spread of the virus worse was World War I (CDC). During the Great War, influenza afflicted military personnel from the United States were shipped all over the North America, Europe, and other various continents spreading the disease. Therefore, this paper will argue that the United States military was a major contributing factor to the spread of the Influenza virus in 1918.”

Before the emergence of SARS-CoV, no efforts were put into the search for antiviral drugs against corona viruses. The rapid transmission and high mortality rate made SARS a global threat for which no efficacious therapy was available and empirical strategies had to be used to treat the patients. According to wikipedia.org, new insights into the field of the SARS-CoV genome structure and pathogenesis revealed novel potential anti-corona virus targets. Several proteins encoded by the SARS-CoV could be considered as targets for therapeutic intervention: the spike protein, the main protease, the NTPase/helicase, the RNA dependent RNA polymerase and different other viral protein-mediated processes. Potential anti-SARS-CoV drugs are currently being developed in vivo.

The development of effective drugs against SARS-CoV may also provide new strategies for the prevention or treatment of other corona virus diseases in animals or humans. Passive immunization has been successful in establishing protection from SARS-CoV suggesting an important role for neutralizing antibodies. One important property of future vaccine candidates is the ability to give protection against multiple variant strains of SARS-CoV, especially in senescent populations that are most at risk for severe disease. SARS may be suspected in a patient who has: any of the symptoms, including a fever of 38 °C (100.4 °F) or higher, and either a history of: contact (sexual or casual) with someone with a diagnosis of SARS within the last 10 days or travel to any of the regions identified by the who as areas with recent local transmission of SARS (affected regions as of 10 May 2003 were parts of China, Hong Kong, Singapore and the province of Ontario, Canada) (Smith, 2006).

Mad cow disease is a progressive neurological disorder of cattle that results from infection. Mad cow disease” is a fatal and communicable brain disease of cows that has a very long incubation period. Decades after infection, the brains of infected cattle develop numerous small cavities as nerve cells die. The holes produce a marked spongy appearance that gives the disease its scientific name, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) (txtwriter.com). Central nervous system function is progressively degraded, until death eventually occurs. Many people have got this disease and died. In addition, mad cow disease is caused by consumption of infected meat. Unfortunately there is no cure for mad cow disease.

The origin of smallpox is uncertain, but it is believed to have originated in Africa and then spread to India and China thousands of years ago. The first recorded smallpox epidemic was in 1350 BC during the Egyptian-Hittite war. Epidemics occurred in the North American colonies in the 17th and 18th centuries. Millions of people died in Europe and Mexico as a result of widespread smallpox epidemics. The vaccine that was created for small pox is called dryvax. Smallpox is caused by the variola virus, which is spread through close contact with a person who has symptoms of the disease. A person with smallpox has infected saliva, and face-to-face contact can spread the virus. The virus could also be spread through other body fluids and contaminated clothing or bed linen.

Smallpox is highly contagious, and people who have it are most infectious during the first week of illness (Meadows, 2003). The symptoms of small pox are as follows; high fever, fatigue, headaches, backaches, and vomiting; in addition, a rash on the face, arms, legs and other areas of the body. The rash turns into raised bumps that become pus-filled blisters (Meadows, 2003). Scabs develop and usually fall off three to four weeks later. There is no proven treatment that exists for smallpox. However, people with smallpox are given intravenous fluids and medicine to control fever and pain, and antibiotics are given to prevent or treat possible bacterial infections. Two treatments for smallpox–Vaccinia Immune Globulin (VIG) and cidofovir–are being studied and could be given under investigational new drug protocols (Meadows, 2003).

Swine Flu symptoms are; cough sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue, and sometimes diarrhea and vomiting. The vaccine for swine flu is called the H1N1 vaccine. However, the treatment for swine flu is a medication called tamiflu and relenza. The dose for this medication is seventy-five milligrams twice a day for five day, which is for someone that has been diagnosed with swine flu. On the other hand, a person that was exposed to it would tale tamiflu seventy-five milligrams once a day for ten days.

There have been many diseases throughout history that have become an epidemic and a lot of these diseases are preventable. The epidemic diseases have occurred as a result of three important factors, which are agent, host, and environment. In addition, the influenza virus of 1918 is known as the worst influenza epidemic ever killing 50 million people and it spread from the United States to parts of North America, Europe, and other various continents. SARS-CoV has a rapid transmission and high mortality rate. This in turn, made SARS a global threat for which no efficacious therapy was available. Before its emergence, no efforts were put into the search for antiviral drugs against corona viruses. Now Passive immunization has been successful in establishing protection from SARS-CoV. There is not a cure for small pox and other epidemic diseases. The medical community treats the diseases the best they can and the best way to combat diseases is to prevent the disease from spreading.


  • Smith, R. D. (2006). Responding to global infectious disease outbreaks: Lessons from SARS on the role of risk perception, communication and management. Journal of Social Science and Medicine, 63, 3113-3123