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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Deadly Diseases: Old and New

A startling but very real fact of life is that those that can do the most harm, even potentially wiping-out humanity, don't necessarily have to be the large-scale catastrophes or massive events. The pendulum of death can swing to the far end of the spectrum. They can be in the microscopic levels, specifically organisms like bacteria, biological toxins, certain proteins (prions) and viruses.

The Black Death bubonic plague was estimated to have taken conservatively 30% (even upwards of 60%) of Europe's population in the 14th century. Even with the advent of modern medicine today, we are not totally spared from localized epidemics to global pandemics, the irony being the relative ease and access to global travel that has made it possible for diseases to be transmitted farther and faster. Case in point: the well-known SARS epidemic some recent years back. There are however some positive steps and discoveries that have been noted, like in the case HIV that leads to AIDS which, while still fatal in the long run, allows for patients live longer with better quality of lives. An early, preventive campaign against dengue fever also allows it to be managed to some degree reducing the number of fatalities it causes yearly. 

There are also the exotic examples like Ebola, Marburg, Lassa fever, and the hantavirus which are  classified under the highest level of killer diseases since they are not only extremely contagious but also have a high mortality rate. These Level 4 diseases also have an added factor of grisliness as most most them are hemorrhagic diseases, causing the infected to bleed through the openings in their body at the late stages of the infection.

Now, researchers are trying to contain an outbreak of a newly discovered disease which has also appeared in Africa. Click below -

New Disease found in Uganda

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