What we are witnessing now is likely to become the new way we live, forcing us to adapt to a more dangerous world, just as we did after 9/11. We have accepted that we have new rules around air travel, security and identification to prevent terrorism. We will also have to accept the changes in how we live and deal with this The era of emerging infectious diseases.
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Most of the infectious diseases we consider “new” are already in animals. Some animals do not get sick from them, but rather host them in their bodies. For example, the HIV epidemic began when humans came into contact with an animal (in this case, a chimpanzee). The virus was transmitted from chimpanzees to humans and began to be transmitted from human to human. With HIV, this spread likely occurred in the early 1900s, but it took decades for scientists to realize that it was killing people.
Our ability to detect new diseases through lab testing is improving every day, so public health agencies detect new threats faster. But that doesn’t fully explain why so many new infections appear or why many old infections come back, such as polio.
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What does that explain? One way to think about this is like athletic competition: bacteria, viruses, and other microscopic threats play a defensive role, and the systems we’ve built to detect and respond to infectious diseases play a defensive role. Over the past twenty years, the power of the attack has increased, but our defense simply did not last.
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Humans are encroaching on animal environments, such as forests and jungles, with greater frequency. Research has shown that the most dangerous place for new diseases to emerge is forest edge and bush. Animals that live and thrive there also are more likely to carry infectious diseases that are dangerous to humans: Rats and bats. (The coronavirus is an example of a virus that likely originated in bats.) Sometimes the spread is not indirect but passes through an insect. For example, a tick or a mosquito bites an animal that picks up the infection, then bites a human and transmits the infection to it, as is the case with Lyme disease.
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Humans grow, trade and consume animals in greater numbers. As economies grow and people are lifted out of poverty, people want to eat more protein, which means an increased need for animals to be raised in large numbers, sold and shipped around the world. The more animals concentrated together, the more likely it is that a new disease will spread between them, and then spread to humans, including through contamination food or Water. New drug resistance “Super Insects”, Like strains salmonellaIt often arises this way.
People are more concentrated in cities than ever before. If you want the disease to spread from person to person, there is no better place than one where many people are crammed into small houses, living next to other families in small houses and rubbing each other every day. In fact, most major cities around the world formed One way or another by previous epidemics.
People move more. This includes people who migrate across borders and travel around the world for business or leisure. Not surprisingly, the most internationally connected city in the United States – New York – has always been the first or hardest to catch new infectious diseases, such as Zika, COVID-19 and monkeypox.
Climate change has accelerated all of these factors. Extreme weather events, droughts, and changes in temperature cause people to migrate to cities, cross borders, and cut down forests and bushes in search of new land to grow crops or to find food. These changes are not limited to humans. Animals, mosquitoes and ticks are finding new places to settle, leading to now “tropical” diseases It happens in some places No one had ever thought that it was a tropical area.
So what can we do to stay safer? Make sure you and your family members are up to date on vaccinations. You also need to make sure you stay as healthy as possible, including with chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. Maintaining good sleep habits, exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, taking your medications as prescribed and seeing your doctor can make you safer.
Stay on top of the news so you know the looming threats and take some time to think about what you would do if there was another respiratory virus pandemic or major contamination of the water supply: It turns out that Think about these scenarios deeply, even for a short time It can reduce anxiety and help you prepare in case those events occur, such as fire drill.
You can also contact elected officials and ask them to support measures that promote public health and limit climate change. No matter how terrifying the world may seem right now, you have the power to do something about it.
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