As of this writing, more than 2,600 people were afflicted by the Ebola Outbreak and have killed at least 1,400 people in West Africa alone. And since the first case of Ebola was recorded in Texas, Americans were once again given a reason to panic. In fact, there has been an obsession to fear that the virus will sweep across the country and apparently, this is not a healthy kind of fear and panic.
Why is that?
The Ebola case in Texas is an exception. This Ebola Outbreak is a threat in any place where airplanes can land although most countries particularly the US already have means to prevent the
virus from spreading. Also, the incubation period is only two to 21 days, which means it is unlikely to spread undetected and kill thousands of people instantly.
The truth is there are other types of viruses and infections you should be worried about other than Ebola. Yes, it may be hard to predict which bacteria and viruses you should be alarmed but there are those already existing which pose an ongoing threat. And this includes:
Influenza / Flu virus
There may be a flu vaccine but did you know that it is still a major killer in the US? In fact, Dr. Robert Schooley, chief of Infectious Diseases at the UC San Diego School of Medicine said that more people will die during the winter from flu than Ebola.
Unfortunately, flu poses a serious threat – which is more than fever and muscle pain. In 2009, a different strain of the virus emerged which was not covered by the vaccine and has affected not just the young and old but mostly those who are in their prime. Dr. Liise-Anne Pirofski, chief of Infectious Diseases at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, explained that there are cases where the young, healthy people’s immune system may respond to the flu virus and the resulting inflammation may worsen the illness.
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus or MRSA
MRSA is a strain of staph bacteria that does not respond to antibiotics which are traditionally used in treating infections. Based on the CDC Tracking Data, there are 75,309 cases of MRSA infection in the US as opposed to the one Ebola case reported. Thankfully, this virus is slowly declining. However, there is no reason to be complacent since the resistant bacteria can still cause life-threatening infections.
According to Dr. Pirofski, antibiotic resistance is a major threat since these organisms cannot be controlled using existing therapies. At the same time, you don’t have to go to West Africa to contract this virus since it is already present in hospitals and healthcare provider settings, inlcuding the most advanced hospitals.
There is a way to treat gonorrhoea, where approximately 820,000 people in the US are afflicted. But did you know that there is a form of bacteria that does not respond to treatments? Sometime in 2000, strains of gonorrhoea resistant to cephalosporins, the antibiotics used to treat this type of STI, showed up in East Asia. By 2013, CDC reported an estimated 246,000 cases of resistant gonorrhoea every year in the US alone.
Why is it alarming?
Resistant gonorrhoea doesn’t show any symptoms, making it spread easily. It may not kill people but it can cause pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility in women. Worse, the virus can spread to your blood which can lead to disseminated gonococcal infection – a condition characterized by arthritis, inflammation covering tendons and dermatitis.