Exotic Diseases in the U.S. May Rise
Probably not, unless you've been to places outside of the U.S. where these diseases and viruses are thriving. However, Americans could come to know these intimately for two reasons:
- Rapid international travel;
- The recession.
The former seems immediately logical, while the latter takes some explanation. One thing we do know, is that each of these diseases and viruses still kill millions worldwide.
Few believe Americans face a killer epidemic from tropical diseases. But scientists who specialize in emerging infectious diseases say such illnesses may become more common here as the economic downturn batters an already weakened public health system, creating environmental conditions conducive to infectious diseases spread by insects or other animals.
Insect contamination is another, more well known method of disease and virus transference to humans. While commonly thought that rats were the culprits of plague, it's now known that the fleas on rats are the actual carriers.
Zoonosis in the U.S. may happen with bats, birds, cats, cattle, dogs, fish, fleas, flies, geese, goats, hamsters, horses, lice, mice, mosquitos, opossums, pigs, rabbits, hares, raccoons, rats, other rodents, sloths, sheep, snails and ticks.
I'm betting that there were at least a few surprises in that list!
Of these aforementioned diseases, malaria is probably the most well known tropical disease, topping more than 200 million cases per year (around the world) - 1 million of which end in death.
At the same time, such vector-borne diseases are capable of spreading around the world much more rapidly due to massive south-to-north immigration, rapid transportation, and global trade.[/q]Duane Gubler, Director of the Duke/NUS Graduate School of Medicine Emerging Infectious Disease Program in Singapore, had this to say:
“We truly did become a global village,” [...] “It has been a sequence of events over a period of 30 years and has come to a head in the last ten years. So we have sounded the alarm.”
One budget cut for example is that of King County in Washington, who were forced to cut around $19 million in the 2009 budget.
Dr. James Maguire, former chief of the CDC's parasitic diseases branch and now a Harvard Professor explains:
“When I started at the CDC in the summer of 2001, I was told my branch budget was zero,” [...] “It was always pretty sparse.”
In an example of mixed governmental priorities, anti-tobacco advertising was allocated a whopping $103.7 million.
Dr. Ali Kahn, deputy director of the National Center for Zoonotic, Vector-Borne and Enteric Diseases at the CDC tells us:
“There is no doubt we could do a lot more in the U.S. and worldwide with additional funds,”
The recession is hitting everyone hard, with harder days yet to come. Despite murmurings of "it's hit rock bottom, and we can only improve," those in the know, incredulously drop their jaws.
Be aware, no matter what the politicians tell you: There is NO bottom in sight, let alone recovery and probably will not be for a few years to come. The government is also weakened by the recession and has only little ability to develop new vaccines or improved treatments to prevent epidemics.
“States do not have resources to keep people on board and these people are monitoring diseases, the epidemiologists doing shoe leather investigations,” said Jeffrey Levi, executive director of Trust for America’s Health. “You cannot turn them on and off with a switch. If you lose them you’ve lost them forever.”
The housing industry is suffering badly too, with constructions still showing half finished skeletons, as work came to a deadly halt. Puddles of water at construction sites are prime breeding grounds for all types of dangerous insects.
To some degree we can help ourselves by making sure that old tires, cans, pottery containers etc., are kept free of water or turned upside down so that puddled water doesn't form.
The eSSORTMENT website paints an even darker picture, by mentioning many other diseases that we need to monitor:
Researchers at the George Institute in Australia have this advice for us:
"Investment decisions are not only influenced by scientific or epidemiological considerations, but may also be influenced by factors such as the presence of advocacy and fundraising groups; by funder perceptions or preferences; or by the presence of policy frameworks and funding mechanisms that prioritize specific diseases,"
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by Brian Alexander
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Mccomb, Mississippi, United States