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article imageMeasles tops the list - Five notable disease outbreaks of 2019

By Karen Graham     Dec 28, 2019 in Health
Some diseases have been around since antiquity, while others are relatively new. But this year, the germs roared back with a vengeance. Here's a look at the most notable disease outbreaks of 2019.
Globally, there was an explosion of measles in many countries, including the United States. The Ebola virus has yet to be eradicated in Africa, while there has been a surge of dengue fever in Asia this year.
"It’s been a tough year for infectious diseases,” said Dr. Jonathan Mermin of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Let's look at some of the most newsworthy disease outbreaks of 2019.
Measles is preventable  and a well functioning routine vaccination program should prevent epidemics.
Measles is preventable, and a well functioning routine vaccination program should prevent epidemics.
Julien Harneis
Measles
Measles is a vaccine-preventable disease that has made the headlines in the U.S. and around the world this year. The U.S. nearly lost its measles elimination status in October, while in August, the World Health Organization determined the disease is no longer considered eliminated in the UK, Greece, the Czech Republic, and Albania.
Measles is a highly contagious airborne infection causing fever, coughing, and rashes. It can be prevented with a two-dose vaccine. Worldwide, the number of cases for January 1 to July 31 this year tripled to 364,808 from 129,239 during the same period in 2018.
The highest numbers of cases were reported in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, and Ukraine. The United States meanwhile registered its highest number of cases in 25 years, with nearly 1,300 cases. The majority of this year's cases, 75 percent, were linked to measles outbreaks in New York within Orthodox Jewish communities, according to the CDC. Most people who caught the disease were not vaccinated against measles, reports Live Science.
An Aedes aegypti mosquito is seen through a microscope at the Fiocruz institute in Rio de Janeiro  w...
An Aedes aegypti mosquito is seen through a microscope at the Fiocruz institute in Rio de Janeiro, where researchers are working to advance the fight against dengue
MAURO PIMENTEL, AFP
Dengue Fever
In August, the Department of Health in the Philippines announced that the nation’s dengue outbreak was declared a national epidemic after more than 162,000 cases and 662 associated deaths were reported in the first 7 months of 2019.
While remaining firm on refusing to make use of the world's first dengue vaccine - Dengvaxia - the number of cases of dengue shot up 98 percent to 146,062 cases from January 1 to July 20, causing 662 deaths, according to Health Secretary Francisco, who said it is a "national dengue epidemic."
Dengue, or hemorrhagic fever, is the world's most common mosquito-borne virus and infects an estimated 390 million people in more than 120 countries each year -- killing more than 25,000 of them, according to the WHO. Hospitals in Bangladesh and Honduras were overrun with patients seeking help this year because of the dengue epidemics. caused by the bite of the Aedes aegypti mosquito.
Globally, mosquito-borne diseases cause epidemics. And while fumigation is the answer to eliminating the mosquitoes, it often leads to a critical situation when the rainy seasons last longer, meaning that breeding grounds will soon proliferate and the mosquito's numbers could soar.
The rise of hepatitis C infection in the US is primarily a result of increasing injection drug use a...
The rise of hepatitis C infection in the US is primarily a result of increasing injection drug use associated with America's growing opioid epidemic
LUIS ROBAYO, AFP/File
Hepatitis A and C
Hepatitis and the hepatitis viruses are distinct - some you may be familiar with, like Hepatitis A or Hepatitis C. However, globally, hepatitis is killing as many people as the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and the bacteria that cause tuberculosis.
Hepatitis is a term used to describe inflammation of the liver. With some people there are no symptoms; in others, a person develops a yellow discoloration of the skin, experiences poor appetite; and suffers with recurrent vomiting, tiredness, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. The condition can be temporary (acute) or long term (chronic). The risk of chronic hepatitis is death from liver failure or liver cancer.
In the United States, Hepatitis C, a bloodborne virus transmitted by injection drug use, dirty needles, blood transfusions, and unprotected sex has tripled in the last five years. Health officials say the rise of the opioid epidemic, with increasing numbers of people sharing needles to inject heroin and prescription painkillers, is driving the increase in cases.
And in California, hepatitis A created the biggest outbreak in the country since the development of a vaccine 20 years ago. Person-to-person Hepatitis A outbreaks remain widespread in the United States. Since the outbreaks were first identified in 2016, 30 states have documented more than 28,000 cases of the virus, with more than 280 outbreak-associated deaths.
A mosquito bite can cause Eastern equine encephalitis
A mosquito bite can cause Eastern equine encephalitis
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Eastern equine encephalitis
Eastern Equine Encephalitis is a rare and deadly mosquito-borne viral disease that has seen a dramatic increase in the United States this year. It gets its name because it was first seen in horses in Massachusetts. According to the CDC, 37 cases of the mosquito-borne illness have been confirmed across 9 states, with 15 deaths recorded.
The virus is spread by mosquitoes that mostly feed on infected birds but sometimes bite humans. Few people get sick from the virus, but those who do can develop a dangerous infection of the brain, spinal cord or surrounding tissues. There is a vaccine for horses, not people.
The big concern is the increase in cases this year. It has doubled from the average number of cases seen yearly over the past decade. Researchers say the larger increase may be related to climate change, as warmer weather can contribute to booms in insects and a northward expansion of where they live.
DR Congo's latest Ebola outbreak has killed more than 2 000 people
DR Congo's latest Ebola outbreak has killed more than 2,000 people
Pamela TULIZO, AFP/File
Ebola
Ebola continues to be relentless in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The outbreak was first declared in August 2018 and has affected more than 3300 individuals and led to more than 2000 deaths. The WHO says the Ebola outbreak remains an "urgent" global health emergency.
In November, the government introduced a second vaccine to fight the deadly Ebola virus in the east of the country, the Doctors Without Borders (MSF) charity said. It said the new vaccine, produced by a Belgian subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, is aimed at protecting about 50,000 people over a period of four months.
The current epidemic is the DRC's 10th Ebola epidemic and the second deadliest on record after an outbreak that struck West Africa in 2014-16, claiming more than 11,300 lives.
More about disease outbreaks, 2019, Measles, Hepatitis A, Eastern equine encephalitis
 
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