December 2012
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In This Issue
June 2014

Did You Know?

MERS and Other Emerging Infectious Diseases

Top List

Top 10 Most Deadly Infectious Diseases

What's Going On?

GetConnected 2014

Recommended Readings
Now Trending

Emerging Infections Trivia

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  • #32714 / #50614 Hospital-acquired Infection Control
  • #318113 / #20113 Travel Medicine
  • #20413 West Nile Virus Disease in Humans

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Did You Know?

MERS and Other Emerging Infectious Diseases

The spread of emerging infectious diseases have caused the deadliest pandemics in recorded human history. In the fourteenth century, the Black Death pandemic caused by Bubonic/Pneumonic Plague resulted in 25 to 40 million deaths. In 1918 an influenza pandemic was responsible for 50 million deaths, and the HIV/AIDS pandemic has caused over 35 million deaths so far. More recent examples of deadly pandemics include SARS in 2002-2003 and H1N1 influenza in 2009.

On May 2nd, the first U.S. case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV or MERS) was confirmed in Indiana. A second U.S. case was identified in Florida on May 11th. According to officials, these cases are not linked, but both occurred in healthcare workers traveling from Saudi Arabia to the U.S.

When first detected in 2012 in the Arabian Peninsula, MERS-CoV was a new virus that had never before been seen in humans. As of May 29th, 636 cases have been confirmed in 20 countries around the world resulting in 193 deaths according to the World Health Organization. Symptoms range from mild to severe and include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. There are no available vaccines or specific treatment recommendations.

Experts do not yet know how humans first became infected. MERS-CoV has been detected in camels in Qatar, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, and in a bat in Saudi Arabia, however, officials have not determined if camels or bats are linked with direct transmission to people. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), human-to-human transmission has occurred in healthcare facilities between patients, healthcare providers, family members, and co-workers. The mode of transmission, whether respiratory or contact, is unknown.

Sixty to eighty percent of emerging infections originate in animals. Other emerging or reemerging diseases result from human-adapted infectious agents that genetically acquire heightened transmission and/or pathogenic characteristics.

There are two major categories of emerging infections – newly emerging and reemerging. A newly emerging infectious disease is an infection recognized in humans for the first time. HIV/AIDS is an example of a newly emerging infectious disease which likely started when the virus jumped from a primate host to humans. Experts believe the disease emerged in sub-Saharan Africa where human movement along truck routes, high levels of sex trafficking, an inadequate public health infrastructure, poverty, and social inequality lead to rapid spread. Another example is SARS, which emerged from bats and then spread to humans, first by person-to-person contact in confined spaces, then within hospitals, and globally through international travel.

Reemerging infectious disease is one that has historically infected humans, but continues to appear in new locations or in drug-resistant forms, or that reappear after apparent control or elimination. West Nile Virus (WNV) is an example of a reemerging infectious disease agent. WNV first appeared centuries ago, but reemerged in the U.S. in 1999 when an infected human, bird, or mosquito came by travel from the Middle East. Another example is Cholera, which has repeatedly reemerged for more than two centuries due to global travel, natural disasters, and conditions leading to poor sanitation, poverty, and social disruption. Community and hospital-acquired Clostridium difficile and Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) are other examples of reemerging infectious diseases caused by increased and/or inappropriate use of antibiotics. Forms of hospital-acquired organisms have now moved into community transmission.

Although officials say MERS represents a very low risk to the general public, healthcare personnel should be on alert for patients at greater risk of infection and should follow recommended infection control measures ( while caring for symptomatic close contacts, patients under investigation and who have probable or confirmed MERS infections.

According to the CDC, patients should be evaluated for MERS infection according to the following criteria.

  • Fever greater than 100.4° F and pneumonia or acute respiratory distress syndrome AND EITHER:
    • History of travel from countries in or near the Arabian Peninsula within 14 days of symptom onset OR
    • Close contact with a symptomatic traveler who developed fever and acute respiratory illness within 14 days after traveling from countries near the Arabian Peninsula OR
    • A member of a cluster of patients with severe acute respiratory illness in which MERS is being evaluated by a state or local health department
  • Close contact of a confirmed or probable case of MERS while the case was ill AND fever greater than 100° F or symptoms of respiratory illness within 14 days following close contact

Patients meeting the above criteria should immediately be reported to their state or local health department. The CDC recommends standard, contact, and airborne precautions for patients with known or suspected MERS infection. For more information from the CDC about MERS, including specific infection control recommendations see:

Top List

Top 10 Most Deadly Infectious Diseases

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) 15 million deaths occur annually around the world from infectious diseases. The following are estimates of the most deadly:

  1. Respiratory infections – 4.3 million deaths
  2. Diarrheal diseases – 2.5 million deaths
  3. HIV/AIDS – 1.8 million deaths
  4. Tuberculosis – 1.3 million deaths
  5. Malaria – 0.8 million deaths
  6. Meningitis – 0.3 million deaths
  7. Pertussis (Whooping Cough) – 0.2 million deaths
  8. Measles – 0.2 million deaths
  9. Hepatitis – 0.1 million deaths
  10. Other infectious diseases combined – 1.2 million deaths

Swank HealthCare's course library provides each healthcare facility access to courses that address the continuing education requirements of over 100 regulatory agencies and licensing entities.

Now Trending

Emerging Infections Trivia

This disease is caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through bites of infected mosquitoes. Ninety percent the world’s deaths from this disease are in Africa. First symptoms are fever, headache, chills, and vomiting. If not treated within 24 hours, it can progress to severe illness often leading to death. Relapses may occur weeks to months after the first infection due to dormant forms of the parasite in the liver. What is it?

This disease was first mentioned in 600 BC. It affects the skin, nerves, mucous membranes, upper respiratory tract, and eyes. It is curable, but may lead to severe nerve damage if not treated. Early signs include light-colored patches on the skin. In 2012, there were 6,500 cases in the U.S. While it can be spread by humans through respiratory droplets, some cases in the U.S. have been linked to contact with armadillos. What is it?

In 2003 cases of this disease were confirmed in the U.S., making it the first reported occurrence outside Africa. These cases were linked to human contact with prairie dogs that experts believe were infected from contact with Gambian rats imported from Africa as exotic pets. Infections may occur from direct contact with blood, body fluids, or rashes of infected animals. The disease is known for causing a rash of lesions form blisters, pustules, and finally crusts. Early signs include fever, headache, swelling of lymph nodes, back pain, and lack of energy. What is it?

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