What Are the Current Infectious Diseases in the World?
As the world continues its struggle with recently emerging viruses such as SARS-CoV-2 and monkeypox, several other pathogens are causing outbreaks around the world. Although we are relatively more familiar with diseases such as Ebola, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), cholera, dengue fever, and malaria, these diseases still affect millions of people every year. Read along to learn more about the latest updates on the recent outbreaks of infectious diseases around the world.
What is Ebola Virus Disease?
Ebola virus disease (EVD) is a serious infectious disease caused by the Ebolavirus of the family Filoviridae. The virus was discovered in 1976 during two simultaneous outbreaks in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Presenting with early symptoms such as fever, fatigue, myalgia, headache, and sore throat followed by vomiting, diarrhea, rash, internal/external bleeding, low levels of white blood cells, and elevated liver enzymes, the Ebola virus causes an acute, potentially fatal illness by impairing kidney and liver function. Although it is a relatively rare infection, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that the Ebola virus disease (EVD) has an average case fatality rate of approximately 50%. The Ebola virus has spread to human populations through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs, and other bodily fluids of infected animals including fruit bats, chimpanzees, gorillas, monkeys, forest antelope, or porcupines. On the other hand, human-to-human transmission of the Ebola virus involves direct contact through broken skin or mucus membranes with the blood and bodily fluids of an infected person or with contaminated objects.
Starting in Guinea and traveling to Sierra Leone and Liberia, the 2014–2016 outbreak has been the largest Ebolavirus outbreak since the appearance of the virus in 1976. While several vaccines and monoclonal antibody treatments have been approved for use against different species of Ebolavirus, the disease continues to cause outbreaks in Africa. According to the updates reported by the World Health Organization (WHO), species of Ebola virus have recently led to outbreaks in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Ministry of Health has declared the end of the outbreak following the burial of the last and only confirmed case on September 27. Concerning the outbreak in Uganda, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that the virus has caused 141 confirmed cases with 55 deaths since the declaration of the outbreak on September 20 until November 21.
What is Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS)?
Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is a viral respiratory disease caused by the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV). The virus was discovered in Saudi Arabia in 2012. Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) commonly presents with symptoms such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, and pneumonia. Older adults, immunocompromised people, and those with chronic diseases may develop severe disease upon infection and suffer serious complications such as respiratory failure, organ dysfunction, and septic shock. Although the figure may be overestimated as the surveillance systems may have missed a significant portion of infected cases with mild to no symptoms, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that MERS has an average case fatality rate of around 35%. Animal-to-human transmission of the virus primarily involves contact with infected dromedary camels. Although more limited, human-to-human transmission of the disease is also possible through close contact.
Since its discovery in 2012, the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) has caused 2600 cases in 27 countries, with 935 associated deaths. More than 80% of these cases and a total of 854 deaths were reported from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia alone. According to the latest update by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has reported four confirmed cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) between April 7 and October 31.
What is Cholera?
Cholera is an acute diarrheal disease caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. Cholera has caused many outbreaks and several pandemics throughout the last 200 years. To this day, it remains a major threat to public health especially in communities with a lack of access to clean water, safe food, and sanitation. Common symptoms of cholera include watery diarrhea and dehydration. If left untreated, severe acute diarrhea and dehydration can be life-threatening. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is estimated that cholera affects 1.3 to 4 million people and causes 21 to 143 thousand deaths every year.
Despite the largely preventable nature of the disease and the development of oral cholera vaccines (OCV), many regions around the world continue to experience outbreaks of cholera. In Malawi, where the disease is endemic, the Ministry of Public Health has reported that cholera has caused 6056 cases with 183 deaths between March 3 and October 31. In Lebanon, the Ministry of Public Health has reported 18 confirmed cholera cases as of October 13, with two probable deaths. This event marks the first cholera outbreak in Lebanon since 1993.
What is Dengue Fever?
Dengue fever is a viral mosquito-borne disease caused by the dengue virus (DENV) of the Flaviviridae family. The virus currently has five known serotypes and is primarily transmitted by infected female mosquitoes of the Aedes genus. Presenting with symptoms such as fever together with symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, rash, swollen glands, fatigue, bleeding nose or gums, headache, as well as pain in the joints, bones, muscles, and behind the eyes. Although the majority of the people infected with the dengue fever virus (DENV) experience little to no symptoms, around 5% of the infected cases develop a potentially fatal form of the disease known as severe dengue.
Dengue fever is a widespread disease with up to 400 million dengue infections and 40,000 deaths occurring in more than 100 endemic countries each year. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the dengue virus is currently causing surges in Pakistan and Nepal where the disease is endemic. Pakistan has reported 25932 confirmed dengue cases with 62 deaths. 72% of these cases were recorded in September alone. Nepal, on the other hand, has reported 28109 cases with 38 confirmed deaths between January 1 and September 28.
What is Malaria?
Malaria is a major mosquito-borne disease caused by Plasmodium parasites which spread to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. Common symptoms of malaria include fever, chills, sweating, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, body aches, and fatigue which may present with a cyclical pattern. While some types of malaria can lay dormant in the liver for several months, others may lead to severe disease and serious complications such as the impairment of brain function and spinal cord, loss of consciousness, seizures, organ failure, coma, and death.
Malaria is still a common and consequential disease in many parts of the world, especially in Africa and South Asia. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 241 million malaria cases and 627,000 malaria-link deaths were reported worldwide in 2020. Moreover, according to the latest updates by World Health Organization (WHO), Pakistan reported more than 3.4 million suspected cases of malaria between January and August 2022, which marks a significant surge compared to the 2.6 million suspected cases reported in 2021.
As the clinical presentations of many of these diseases may be similar to a wide range of diseases affecting human health, testing remains critical for the diagnosis of these infections. With rapid antigen tests such as our Dengue NS1 Ag Rapid Test Kit and Malaria P.F Rapid Test Kit, it is possible to check for an infection in minutes. Moreover, test kits such as our Malaria P.F/P.V Rapid Test Kit, Malaria P.F/Pan Rapid Test Kit, Dengue IgG/IgM Rapid Test Kit, and Dengue IgG/IgM/NS1 Combo Rapid Test Kit allow for the simultaneous detection of various combinations of antigens and antibodies.