Diseases West Nile Virus, Malaria Term Paper

Pages: 10 (3742 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 12  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Disease


During these outbreaks, hungry infected fleas that have lost their normal hosts seek other sources of blood..." ("Plague," 2004). The first sign of plague is a hot, swollen, and painful lymph node called a "bubo." The swollen node is often accompanied by fever, headache, and exhaustion. These symptoms usually begin about two to six days after the person is exposed ("Plague," 2004). The impact on the health of the individual can be fatal if the disease is not treated in time. In addition, the patient must be isolated because the disease is so contagious, and this adds to the impact on the patient and the family. Luckily, the plague is not nearly as common as it was in earlier centuries. However, plague still exists in the world, and small outbreaks do occasionally occur. In 1995, there were 2861 cases of the disease reported worldwide ("Plague," 2004). Clearly, the plague is not the scourge that some of the other infectious diseases are, but it is more frightening to more people because they know more about it, and the buboes are so frightening. There is a vaccine for the plague, but because the cases are so isolated, it is no longer available in the U.S. Antibiotics, including streptomycin or gentamycin are effective in the treatment, and so are several other Antibiotics. Early treatment of the disease usually ensures recovery, but one in seven people infected will usually die of the disease ("Plague," 2004). Research has shown that some people are immune to the plague. One scientist "discovered that those who were spared had an abnormal version of a gene known as CCR5-delta 32. This mutation provided them with protection against the plague" (Boston, 2002, pg. D03). Because of the implications of this finding, researchers are now studying why this mutation occurs, and if similar mutations can protect against other deadly diseases, such as HIV / AIDS. Because of continued study, scientists also have come to understand why the plague can suddenly occur and then disappear, too. The simple answer is plague pathogens can see an opportunity to explode and capitalize on it (Wills, 1996, pg. 47). Thus, the plague and its' study have given us more understanding of how diseases develop and flourish.

TOPIC: Term Paper on Diseases West Nile Virus, Malaria, Assignment

The economic impact of this disease is slight because of its' minor occurrence around the world. Usually only 1,000 to 2,000 cases are reported a year. Prevention of the disease is next to impossible according to the CDC, and so, most areas where plague occurs rely on educating the public to watch out for plague-prone animals, such as ground squirrels, voles, prairie dogs, and other wild rodents. Plague-infected fleas can quickly relocate to domestic animals, so it is best to keep pets indoors if these rodents live in the area. Plague-prone areas also attempt to control rodents in populated areas. Often, plague kills the host animal, and this is another source of infection. The social impact, in fact most impacts of the disease are slight, because it has effectively been controlled in the world. Plague does not even occur in Australia and Europe, and as reports show, there are very few cases reported each year in the United States. Plague is still in the world, but it is a good example of how a disease can be eradicated effectively. The effort put into controlling the plague can now be turned to other, more deadly diseases.

Yellow fever is another disease that has effectively eradicated in the world, and the early control of malaria came because of the attempt to control yellow fever (Wills, 1996, pg. 161). Like the plague, many people fear yellow fever because it killed so many before a vaccine was discovered and the eradication of infected mosquitoes took place. Yellow fever is common in the tropics, it killed many travelers and explorers in the 18th and 19th centuries, and so, it became quite well-known to people. Yellow fever, like malaria and the West Nile virus, is contracted by the bites of infected mosquitoes. The heaviest time of contraction is during the rainy season in areas where the disease exists. The symptoms of the disease include symptoms resembling the flu, such as vomiting and headache, to "severe hepatitis and hemorrhagic fever" (Barwick, et. al., 2004). Other symptoms continue to develop as the disease develops, which include a slowed pulse, bleeding gums, and bloody urine ("Communicable," 2004). These symptoms usually develop within three to six days after exposure to the disease. The name yellow fever comes from the hepatitis symptom, which can turn the patient's skin a yellow color. The impact on the health of a person infected with yellow fever can be negligible to death. The disease still occurs most commonly in Africa, where the death rate is less than 20% in reported cases. However, in five cases between 1996 and 2002 in the United States and Europe, where travelers contracted the disease and returned home with it, all five cases were fatal ("Barwick, et. al., 2004). Yellow fever often goes unreported, and so the true figures for the disease and its death toll may never be known. There is a cure for yellow fever, and that is one reason that it occurs so infrequently. A vaccine was developed that effectively protects the patient for ten years or more against the disease. Vaccinations are required for anyone traveling to an area where the disease is still prevalent. The vaccine does cause an adverse reaction in some patients. The CDC notes, "Yellow fever vaccine generally has few side effects; fewer than 5% of vaccinees develop mild headache, muscle pain, or other minor symptoms 5 to 10 days after vaccination" ("Yellow Fever," 2004). Some people should not be inoculated, including pregnant women and children less than 9 months of age.

The economic impact of the disease is fairly negligible, since it is much less common than many other of the infectious diseases discussed here, except for the plague. The status of the disease today looks very favorable, and if more people in Africa and South America can be inoculated, the disease might be eradicated almost entirely, as the plague has been. Unfortunately, the virus does seem to be growing in Brazil and Peru (Barwick, et. al., 2004). However, usually one a few hundred cases are reported each year, so the disease does not show signs of violent increase, as malaria does. The social impact of the disease mostly affects travelers to certain areas who might contract the disease. Clearly, those travelers who contract it face a greater risk of death, and the statistics for Europe and the United States show. However, the actual likelihood of contracting the disease is quite low. The CDC notes, "Based on data for U.S. travelers, the risk for illness in a traveler due to yellow fever has been estimated to be 0.4-4.3 cases per million travelers to yellow fever-endemic areas" (Barwick, et. al., 2004). Clearly, the incidence of the disease is low, and travelers who receive vaccinations should be more than safe from the disease. Yellow fever seems benign now, but just a century ago, it was still rampant in tropical areas of the world. The disease shows what concentrated research and control can do, but it also shows something else. Yellow fever has for all intents and purposes has disappeared, but another quickly spreading disease has taken its place - West Nile virus, and the same insect spreads it. This shows that even though we eradicate one disease, there are others constantly developing. The more we learn about control and eradication from diseases like yellow fever, the more we can hope to find answers to West Nile, and the other diseases waiting in the wings.

Each of these diseases is serious, and can be deadly to some individuals. West Nile virus is frightening because it spreads so quickly, and affects such a large number of birds and animals. The plague has been around for so long it is incredibly frightening, and can decimate huge numbers of the population if left untreated. Yellow fever can be extremely devastating, even though it only occurs in Africa and South America today. The thing that is important to recognize about all these diseases is insects that are difficult if not impossible to eradicate and control spread them. This is why these diseases continue to spread across the globe, and this is one reason these diseases are so very serious. Obviously, if these diseases got out of control, the social impact could be devastating. Thousands, even millions of people could die, and the population of the world could be devastated.

However, each of these diseases is a lesson in treatment and control. As man has learned more about each deadly disease, they have been able to control some of them, and that control has eventually led to the control of other similar diseases. For example, the attempt to control malaria led to control of yellow fever, and… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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