THE PLAGUE, SMALLPOX, TUBERCULOSIS, LEPROSY, AND CHOLERA REACHING TRULY CATASTROPHIC LEVELS
Over the centuries, epidemics have caused a large-scale loss of human life, with diseases such as the plague, smallpox, tuberculosis, leprosy, and cholera reaching truly catastrophic levels. In the 20th century alone, three Type A influenza pandemics occurred in 1918, 1957 and 1968, causing millions of deaths worldwide. Past epidemics have had and continue to have, an unusually detrimental impact on society. In addition to epidemiological problems, countries faced other crisis management challenges. The actual number of cases of a disease can be less relevant than the presence of the disease itself.
Past influenza pandemics have taken the world by surprise, leaving insufficient time to respond adequately to a large number of patients and deaths or to the crises they have caused. Therefore, it is the responsibility of governments and communities to prevent such a scenario from occurring again.
Prevention of and preparedness for a potential influenza pandemic requires collaboration among health, agriculture, other government sectors, international organizations, universities, research centers and the private sector.
The health sector should also undertake other critical prevention and mitigation measures, such as risk communications, epidemiological surveillance, including the reporting of unusual events and the activation of an early warning system, prescribing and distributing antiviral medications, vaccinating high-risk populations (if and when a vaccine is available), and exchanging information among institutions and countries. Additional public health measures would include quarantine and isolation procedures, business and travel restrictions, and risk reduction recommendations for international transport.
Communicable diseases are bound to continue causing grave public health emergencies for decades to come. Although major efforts currently are underway in many sectors to deal with these risks, the health sector must actively involve and collaborate with other actors, a strategy which is not commonplace today. Stepping up preparedness now for an influenza pandemic—whether or not it materializes—is simply good for public health in general.
· Protect yourself and those around you by getting a flu vaccine each year. http://www.thevinemedicalcenter.com/services/