Epidemics, the Biggest Horror on Earth
Epidemics, the Biggest Horror on Earth
  • Cho Park Jiyeon, Kim Oh Jieun
  • 승인 2014.12.06 11:58
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Democratic Republic of the Congo
Huge Ebola Virus Outbreak


On October 25th, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that the number of the Ebola-infected has officially reached over 10,000 worldwide.  The Ebola hemorrhagic fever is one of the most terrifying diseases connected to the Ebola virus.  Although the exact virus host hasn’t been established as of yet, it is known the disease is transmitted through bodily fluids and that it has a high fatality rate of about 80%.  Death occurs due to the high fever from muscle pain and hemorrhaging after a latent period of 2-21 days.  The Ebola virus was first detected in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1976.  Since 1976, there have been repeated outbreaks in the middle of Africa.  However, today the global world is trembling with fear over the Ebola virus as it has spread to Guinea in West Africa in March of this year.  The epidemic is currently raging across Guinea, Liberia, and well into Nigeria. There have also been a few cases in the United States, Spain, and so on.  Though the crisis now is the absence of a vaccine, many countries including Korea decided to dispatch medical teams.  Additionally, the number of volunteer applications has increased. Tragically, the Ebola virus is causing fear among people and this brings with it misinformation.  The new coined word “fearbola” has become commonplace, and there are rumors that the disease can spread by a simple handshake although the Ebola virus cannot be spread by light physical touch.  Indeed Ebola is horrific, but the most dangerous part of the situation at the moment is the rumors that are spreading by ignorance, so there is urgent need for correct information and caution.

Cholera, a Scary Enemy that Exists even Today


Long ago, Cholera was the reason behind so many deaths.  In the 19th century, most Asian countries suffered from Cholera.  The spread of Cholera started in India but quickly spread to East Asian countries like China and Korea. Cholera is a contagious disease that is caused by the Cholera virus.  When someone is infected with the Cholera virus, he or she suffers acute diarrhea that leads to dehydration. Severe enough, it leads to death.  The cause of Cholera is dirty water and rotten food.  It is hard to catch Cholera early because of the latency of disease, which differs from a few hours to five days; yet, it's commonly 2 or 3 days.  Once someone is diagnosed with Cholera, the person must be separated from others as the virus spreads from person to person easily.  The cure for Cholera is to replenish the body's water and electrolytes to balance the density of electrolytes in the body.  When doctors prescribe antibiotics to Cholera patients, the disease is slowed.  Generally, in modern society, parents take their babies to the hospital to receive a Cholera vaccination.  This practice has caused many people to incorrectly assume Cholera has been eliminated from the world.  A vaccine is not a cure. In addition, countries like India, Cambodia, and some African countries still suffer from the disease.  If a visitor to one of those countries had not received a prior vaccination, it is possible that he or she could get infected.  Because of these careless people, the rate of the Cholera virus coming into Korea has been increasing.  Therefore, to prevent Cholera, people should drink clean water and thoroughly cook food. Also, remember to get vaccinated before travelling to one of the aforesaid countries.

Nightmare of SARS


In 2003, an American business man who worked in Hong Kong died from an unknown disease.  At that time, people didn’t know that the incident would cause huge panic across China.  Doctors soon declared he had died of SARS. SARS started in Guangdong and quickly spread to Hong Kong and the rest of the world.  The spread of SARS made 83,000 people sick in 32 different countries and about 10% of those infected died.  The cause of SARS is a corona virus mutation, so the disease is properly defined as the SARS corona virus.  The main symptoms of SARS are a sudden fever, coughing, and breathing difficulty.  If severe, symptoms can last for up to 2 weeks and cause patients to develop acute breathing disorders.  Doctors set out 3 SARS indicators. First, the patient will have a fever over 38 degrees. Second, the person was in contact with someone diagnosed with SARS within the last 10 days.  Finally, the patient must have travelled to that WHO designated as SARS danger zones.  Unfortunately, until now there is no vaccination for SARS.  The only way to cure SARS is to treat the breathing disorder.  The fear of SARS ended when WHO announced Taiwan, a SARS danger zone, to be SARS free in July 2003.  SARS was the first disease to highlight differences between epidemics of today and the past because SARS spread faster than any other past disease. Luckily Korea didn’t have any SARS patients.  China's federal government had to employ its military troops to segregate SARS patients from the rest of society.  The patients' doctors were also checked regularly by the army.  This stopped more serious problems.

Unfinished Tale of Novel Influenza


Do you remember the novel influenza that swept across the world in 2009?  This influenza was first discovered in California, the United States.  It was also detected in Mexico and in April 2009, it started to spread throughout the world.  As a result, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the influenza “pandemic,” which is the highest level of epidemic warning.  WHO reported the death toll from the influenza to be 18,449; however, The New York Times reported the number to be 10 times that number according to a study done at George Washington University’s public health center last year.  The main infection symptoms of the novel influenza are similar to existing influenzas: respiratory diseases due to high fever, muscular pain, coughing, throat pain, etc.  Actually, the correct name of the influenza is Influenza A (H1N1).  There are three types of this influenza; they are type A, B, and C. Among these 3 types, type A can be found in humans, birds, and pigs, and its surface antigens lead to genetic variations, so the number of mutations has continuously increased.  This pandemic came to an end about August 2010.  Fortunately, it can now be treated like any other seasonal influenza, and has a safe vaccination, Oseltamivir known more commonly as “Tamiflu” and Zanamivir.  Therefore, it may not be correct to refer to Influenza A (H1N1) as a detrimental disease now.  Nevertheless, it can still be found occurring during flu season, so it is needed to reinforce quick emergency reaction system, and getting regular vaccinations.


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