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Emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases: a potential pandemic threat

Introduction: The field of infectious disease is vast, complex and rapidly expanding. New advances in diagnostic testing, the development of new antimicrobial therapies and even the emergence of novel infectious diseases require diligent study by medical practitioners to remain current. Method: A systematic review using WHO, ECDC and CDC sources. Results: International travelling can pose various risks to health, depending on the characteristics of both the traveller and the travel. Travellers may encounter sudden and significant changes in altitude, humidity, microbes and temperature, which can result in ill-health. In addition, serious health risks may arise in areas where accommodation is of poor quality, hygiene and sanitation are inadequate, medical services are not well developed and clean water is unavailable. Conclusions: The ‘global village’ is a reality indeed. When an event affects the population in one part of our world, it inevitably will have an impact on all others. ‘Virtually any destination can be reached from any other in only 36 hours of travel. This 36-hour window is well within the incubation period of most infectious diseases, thus providing ample opportunity for disease transmission to travellers and by them. Important health organizations with a national or worldview of disease (e.g., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization) have restructured themselves to place greater emphasis on infectious diseases and rapid responses to epidemics, wherever they emerge.

Author(s): Zyga Sofia

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