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Ebola hemorrhagic fever (Ebola HF) is a severe, often-fatal disease in humans and nonhuman primates (monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees) that has appeared sporadically since its initial recognition in 1976. The disease is caused by infection with Ebola virus, named after a river in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire) in Africa, where it was first recognized. There are five identified subtypes of Ebola virus. Confirmed cases of Ebola HF have been reported in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Sudan, the Ivory Coast, Uganda, and the Republic of the Congo. No case of the disease in humans has ever been reported in the United States. People can be exposed to Ebola virus from direct contact with the blood and/or secretions of an infected person. Thus, the virus is often spread through families and friends because they come in close contact with such secretions when caring for infected persons. Nosocomial transmission refers to the spread of a disease within a health-care setting, such as a clinic or hospital. It occurs frequently during Ebola HF outbreaks. The incubation period for Ebola HF ranges from 2 to 21 days. The onset of illness is abrupt and is characterized by fever, headache, joint and muscle aches, sore throat, and weakness, followed by diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach pain. A rash, red eyes, hiccups and internal and external bleeding may be seen in some patients. There is no standard treatment for Ebola HF. Patients receive supportive therapy. This consists of balancing the patient's fluids and electrolytes, maintaining their oxygen status and blood pressure, and treating them for any complicating infections.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is one of the most common lung diseases. It makes it difficult to breathe. There are two main forms of COPD: Chronic bronchitis, which involves a long-term cough with mucus, and Emphysema, which involves destruction of the lungs over time. Smoking is the leading cause of COPD. The more a person smokes, the more likely that person will develop COPD. However, some people smoke for years and never get COPD. In rare cases, nonsmokers who lack a protein called alpha-1 antitrypsin can develop emphysema. Symptoms: Cough, with or without mucus, Fatigue, Many respiratory infections, Shortness of breath (dyspnea) that gets worse with mild activity, Trouble catching one's breath, and Wheezing. People with this disease do not get enough oxygen and suffer a buildup of carbon dioxide in their blood Because the symptoms of COPD develop slowly, some people may not know that they are sick. The best test for COPD is a lung function test called spirometry. This involves blowing out as hard as possible into a small machine that tests lung capacity. The results can be checked right away, and the test does not involve exercising, drawing blood, or exposure to radiation.There is no cure for COPD. However, there are many things you can do to relieve symptoms and keep the disease from getting worse. Persons with COPD MUST stop smoking. This is the best way to slow down the lung damage. COPD is a long-term (chronic) illness. The disease will get worse more quickly if you do not stop smoking. Patients with severe COPD will be short of breath with most activities and will be admitted to the hospital more often. These patients should talk with their doctor about breathing machines and end-of-life care.
Legionnaires' disease is a severe form of pneumonia — lung inflammation usually caused by infection. Legionnaires' disease is caused by a bacterium known as legionella. You can't catch Legionnaires' disease from person-to-person contact. Instead, most people get Legionnaires' disease from inhaling the bacteria. Outdoors, Legionella bacteria survive in soil and water, but rarely cause infections. Indoors, though, Legionella bacteria can multiply in all kinds of water systems — hot tubs, air conditioners and mist sprayers in grocery store produce departments. Older adults, smokers and people with weakened immune systems are particularly susceptible to Legionnaires' disease. Legionnaires' disease usually develops two to 14 days after exposure to legionella bacteria. It frequently begins with the following signs and symptoms: Headache, Muscle pain, Chills, Fever. By the second or third day, you'll develop other respiratory symptoms. Although Legionnaires' disease primarily affects the lungs, it occasionally can cause infections in wounds and in other parts of the body, including the heart. A mild form of Legionnaires' disease — known as Pontiac fever — may produce symptoms including fever, chills, headache and muscle aches. Pontiac fever doesn't infect your lungs, and symptoms usually clear within two to five days. Legionnaires' disease is treated with antibiotics. The sooner therapy is started, the less likely the chance of serious complications or death. Pontiac fever goes away on its own without treatment and causes no lingering problems.Outbreaks of Legionnaire's disease are preventable, but it requires meticulous cleaning and disinfection of water systems, pools and spas.
Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne illness in North America and Europe. Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. Deer ticks, which feed on the blood of animals and humans, can harbor the bacteria and spread it when feeding. You're more likely to get Lyme disease if you live or spend time in grassy and heavily wooded areas where ticks carrying the disease thrive. It's important to take common-sense precautions in areas where Lyme disease is prevalent. The ticks are brown and when young, they're often no bigger than the head of a pin, which can make them nearly impossible to spot. To contract Lyme disease, an infected deer tick must bite you. The bacteria enter your skin through the bite and eventually make their way into your bloodstream. In most cases, to transmit Lyme disease, a deer tick must be attached for 36 to 48 hours. If you find an attached tick that looks swollen, it may have fed long enough to transmit bacteria. Removing the tick as soon as possible may prevent infection. If you're treated with appropriate antibiotics in the early stages of the disease, you're likely to recover completely. In later stages, response to treatment may be slower, but the majority of people with Lyme disease recover completely with appropriate treatment. The signs and symptoms of Lyme disease vary and usually affect more than one system. The skin, joints and nervous system are affected most often. Within a month after infection: rash, flu-like symptoms. Later signs: joint pain, neurological problems.
Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as mad cow disease, is a fatal neurodegenerative disease (encephalopathy) in cattle that causes a spongy degeneration in the brain and spinal cord. In humans, it is known as new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Symptoms of CJD sometimes resemble those of other dementia-like brain disorders, such as Alzheimer's, but Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease usually progresses much more rapidly. Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease captured public attention in the 1990s when some people in the United Kingdom developed a form of the disease after eating meat from diseased cattle. However, "classic" Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease has not been linked to contaminated beef. Although serious, CJD is rare. The disease can't be transmitted through coughing or sneezing, touching, or sexual contact. Most people with classic CJD develop the disease for no apparent reason. It can be developed through family inheritance or exposure to infected human tissue during a medical procedure. Worldwide, there is an estimated one case of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease diagnosed per million people each year, most commonly in older adults. Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is marked by rapid mental deterioration, usually within a few months. Initial signs and symptoms of CJD typically include: Personality changes, Anxiety, Depression, Memory loss, Impaired thinking, Blurred vision, insomnia. As the disease progresses, mental symptoms worsen. Most people eventually lapse into a coma. Heart failure, respiratory failure, pneumonia or other infections are generally the cause of death. The disease usually runs its course in about seven months, although a few people may live up to one or two years after diagnosis. No effective treatment exists for Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease or any of its variants. A number of drugs have been tested — including steroids, antibiotics and antiviral agents — and have not shown benefits. There is no known way to prevent sporadic CJD. If you have a family history of neurological disease, you may benefit from talking with a genetics counselor, who can help you sort through the risks associated with your particular situation.
Malaria produces recurrent attacks of chills and fever. Caused by a parasite that's transmitted by mosquitoes, malaria kills about 1 million people each year worldwide. While the disease is uncommon in temperate climates, malaria is still prevalent in tropical and subtropical countries. Malaria is caused by a type of microscopic parasite that's transmitted most commonly by the mosquito bites. World health officials are trying to reduce the incidence of malaria by distributing bed nets to help protect people from mosquito bites as they sleep. It can also be transmitted through mother to unborn child, blood transfusions, and sharing needles used to inject drugs. A vaccine to prevent malaria is currently under development. If you're traveling to locations where malaria is common, take preventive medicine before, during and after your trip. Many malaria parasites are now immune to the most common drugs used to treat the disease. Symptoms: Moderate to severe shaking chills, High fever, Profuse sweating as body temperature falls, Headache, Nausea, Vomiting, Diarrhea. Malaria signs and symptoms typically begin within a few weeks after a bite from an infected mosquito. However, some types of malaria parasites can lie dormant in your body for months, or even years. Antimalarial drugs are used to treat malaria. The history of antimalarial medicine has been marked by a constant struggle between evolving drug-resistant parasites and the search for new drug formulations. In many parts of the world, for instance, resistance to chloroquine has rendered the drug ineffective. In general, the drugs taken to prevent malaria are the same drugs used to treat the disease. Your doctor needs to know where you'll be traveling so that he or she can prescribe the drug that will work best on the type of malaria parasite most commonly found in that region. Reduce exposure to mosquitoes.
Rift Valley fever (RVF) is a viral zoonosis (transmitted across species) that primarily affects animals but also has the capacity to infect humans. Infection can cause severe disease in both animals and humans. The disease also results in significant economic losses due to death and abortion among RVF-infected livestock. The vast majority of human infections result from direct or indirect contact with the blood or organs of infected animals. The virus can be transmitted to humans through the handling of animal tissue during slaughtering or butchering, assisting with animal births, conducting veterinary procedures, or from the disposal of carcasses or fetuses. The incubation period (interval from infection to onset of symptoms) for RVF varies from two to six days. Those infected either experience no detectable symptoms or develop a mild form of the disease characterized by a feverish syndrome with sudden onset of flu-like fever, muscle pain, joint pain and headache. Some patients develop neck stiffness, sensitivity to light, loss of appetite and vomiting; in these patients the disease, in its early stages, may be mistaken for meningitis. The symptoms of RVF usually last from four to seven days, after which time the immune response becomes detectable with the appearance of antibodies and the virus gradually disappears from the blood. While most human cases are relatively mild, a small percentage of patients develop a much more severe form of the disease. As most human cases of RVF are relatively mild and of short duration, no specific treatment is required for these patients. An inactivated vaccine has been developed for human use. However, this vaccine is not licensed and is not commercially available. Several different species of mosquito are able to act as vectors for transmission of the RVF virus. Outbreaks of RVF in animals can be prevented by a sustained programme of animal vaccination.
Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is a contagious and sometimes fatal respiratory illness. SARS first appeared in China in November 2002. Within a few months, SARS spread worldwide, carried by unsuspecting travelers. SARS showed how quickly infection can spread in a highly mobile and interconnected world. The SARS epidemic also demonstrated that international cooperation among health experts can effectively contain the spread of the disease. Since 2004, known instances of SARS transmission have fallen to zero worldwide. SARS typically begins with flu-like signs and symptoms — fever, chills, muscle aches and occasionally diarrhea. After about a week, signs and symptoms include: Fever, Dry cough, Shortness of breath. SARS is caused by a strain of coronavirus, the same family of viruses that causes the common cold. Until now, these viruses have never been particularly dangerous in humans, although they can cause severe disease in animals. For that reason, scientists originally thought that the SARS virus might have crossed from animals to humans. It now seems likely that it evolved from one or more animal viruses into a completely new strain. Most respiratory illnesses, including SARS, spread through droplets that enter the air when someone with the disease coughs, sneezes or talks. In spite of a concerted global effort, scientists have yet to find an effective treatment for SARS. Antibiotic drugs don't work against viruses and antiviral drugs haven't shown much benefit. The only prevention methods are to use common sense disease prevention like washing hands.
Tuberculosis (TB) is a potentially serious infectious disease that primarily affects your lungs. The bacteria that cause tuberculosis are spread from person to person through tiny droplets released into the air via coughs and sneezes. Although tuberculosis is contagious, it's not especially easy to catch. You're much more likely to get tuberculosis from someone you live with or work with than from a stranger. Tuberculosis was once rare in developed countries, but the number of TB cases began increasing in 1985. Part of the increase was caused by the emergence of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. HIV weakens a person's immune system so it can't fight the TB germs. Many strains of tuberculosis can resist the effects of the drugs most commonly used to treat the disease. Signs and symptoms of active TB include: Cough, Unexplained weight loss, Fatigue, Fever, Night sweats, Chills, Loss of appetite. Medications are the cornerstone of tuberculosis treatment. But treating TB takes much longer than treating other types of bacterial infections. With tuberculosis, you must take antibiotics for at least six to nine months. Another reason tuberculosis remains a major killer is the increase in drug-resistant strains of the bacterium. Ever since the first antibiotics were used to fight tuberculosis 60 years ago, the germ has developed the ability to survive attack, and that ability gets passed on to its descendants. If you test positive for latent TB infection, your doctor may advise you to take medications to reduce your risk of developing active tuberculosis.
Tularemia is a rare infectious disease that can attack the skin, eyes, lymph nodes, lungs and, less often, other internal organs. Often called rabbit fever or deer fly fever, tularemia is caused by the bacterium Francisella tularensis. The disease mainly affects mammals, especially rodents, rabbits and hares, although it can also infect birds, reptiles and fish. Tularemia spreads to humans through several routes, including insect bites and direct exposure to an infected animal. Highly contagious and potentially fatal, tularemia usually can be treated effectively with specific antibiotics if diagnosed early. Most people exposed to tularemia who become sick generally do so within two to 10 days. Several types of tularemia exist, and which type you get depends on how and where the bacteria enter the body. Symptoms vary, main ones are: A skin ulcer that forms at the site of infection — usually an insect or animal bite, Swollen and painful lymph glands, Fever, Chills, Headache, Exhaustion. Tularemia doesn't occur naturally in humans and isn't known to pass from person to person. However, tularemia occurs worldwide, especially in rural areas, because many mammals, birds, insects and fish are infected with F. tularensis. The organism can live for weeks in soil, water and dead animals. Unlike some infectious diseases that spread from animals to people through a single route, tularemia has several modes of transmission: insect bites, exposure to sick/dead animals, airbourne bacteria, contaminated food/water. Tularemia can be effectively treated with antibiotics. Attempts to develop a tularemia vaccine have not been successful so far. If you work in a high-risk occupation or live in an area where tularemia is present, the best prevention method is to protect yourself from insect bites.
Typhoid fever is caused by Salmonella typhi bacteria. Typhoid fever is rare in industrialized countries. However, it remains a serious health threat in the developing world, especially for children. Typhoid fever spreads through contaminated food and water or through close contact with someone who's infected. Signs and symptoms usually include high fever, headache, abdominal pain, and either constipation or diarrhea. When treated with antibiotics, most people with typhoid fever feel better within a few days, although a small percentage of them may die of complications. Vaccines against typhoid fever are available, but they're only partially effective. Vaccines usually are reserved for those who may be exposed to the disease or are traveling to areas where typhoid fever is common. Although children with typhoid fever sometimes become sick suddenly, signs and symptoms are more likely to develop gradually — often appearing one to three weeks after exposure to the disease. Once signs and symptoms do appear, you're likely to experience: Fever, Headache, Weakness and fatigue, Dry cough, Loss of appetite, Abdominal pain, Diarrhea or constipation, Rash. Symptoms get worse if left untreated. Antibiotic therapy is the only effective treatment for typhoid fever. In many developing nations, the public health goals that can help prevent and control typhoid — safe drinking water, improved sanitation and adequate medical care — may be difficult to achieve. For that reason, some experts believe that vaccinating high-risk populations is the best way to control typhoid fever.
Radiation sickness is damage to your body caused by a large dose of radiation often received over a short period of time (acute). The amount of radiation absorbed by the body — the absorbed dose — determines how sick you'll be. Radiation sickness is also called acute radiation sickness, acute radiation syndrome or radiation poisoning. Common exposures to low-dose radiation, such as X-ray or CT examinations, don't cause radiation sickness. Although radiation sickness is serious and often fatal, it's rare. Since the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, during World War II, most cases of radiation sickness have occurred after nuclear industrial accidents such as the 1986 fire that damaged the nuclear power plant at Chernobyl or the 2011 earthquake that damaged the nuclear power plant on the east coast of Japan. The initial signs and symptoms of treatable radiation sickness are usually nausea and vomiting. After the first round of signs and symptoms, a person with radiation sickness may have a brief period with no apparent illness, followed by the onset of new, more serious symptoms. In general, the greater your radiation exposure, the more rapid and more severe your symptoms will be. The treatment goals for radiation sickness are to prevent further radioactive contamination; treat life-threatening injuries, such as from burns and trauma; reduce symptoms; and manage pain. In the event of a radiation emergency, stay tuned to your radio or television to hear what protective actions local, state and federal authorities recommend.
Whooping cough (pertussis) is a highly contagious respiratory tract infection. In many people, it's marked by a severe hacking cough followed by a high-pitched intake of breath that sounds like "whoop." Before the vaccine was developed, whooping cough was considered a childhood disease. Now whooping cough primarily affects children too young to have completed the full course of vaccinations and teenagers and adults whose immunity has faded. Deaths associated with whooping cough are rare but most commonly occur in infants. That's why it's so important for pregnant women — and other people who will have close contact with an infant — to be vaccinated against whooping cough. Once you become infected with whooping cough, it can take one to three weeks for signs and symptoms to appear. They're usually mild at first and resemble those of a common cold. After a week or two, signs and symptoms worsen. Thick mucus accumulates inside your airways, causing uncontrollable coughing. Whooping cough is caused by bacteria and can be spread through the air. Infants are typically hospitalized for treatment because whooping cough is more dangerous for that age group. Antibiotics kill the bacteria causing whooping cough and help speed recovery. Family members may be given preventive antibiotics. Unfortunately, not much is available to relieve the cough. Over-the-counter cough medicines, for instance, have little effect on whooping cough and are discouraged. The best way to prevent whooping cough is with the pertussis vaccine, which doctors often give in combination with vaccines against two other serious diseases — diphtheria and tetanus. Doctors recommend beginning vaccination during infancy.