Top 5 epidemics to watch out in 2017: Possible disease outbreaks this year

Even though Science and Medicine have made a lot of progress, the number of infectious diseases are increasing day by day. Population pressure, climate change, and ecological degradation may be contributing to a situation where zoonosis – the movement of a disease from a vertebrate animal to a human host is more common.

So here is a list of the top five new infectious diseases to watch for in 2017.

1. Leishmaniasis

Also known as “Aleppo boil”, this parasitic infection has recently become a problem among Syrian refugees. Producing skin ulcerations, and occasionally spreading to internal organs with fatal consequences, the increase of cases turning up in Europe among migrants has made it the subject of considerable media interest. Leishmaniasis is spread by the bite of the sandfly, however, which means it has a northern limit to its range. The disfiguring effects of leishmaniasis.

2. Rift Valley Fever

This virus is spread by a variety of biting insects but fortunately does not transmit from person to person. Humans appear only to be infected by mosquitoes that have previously bitten livestock. Nevertheless, RVF has been expanding its range in Africa, most recently pushing north-west into the Sahel region.

It often turns up in travelers returning from affected areas, and one of those could be the carrier that takes RVF out of Africa and into new continents. Beginning, as many viruses do, with a vague fever, aches, and pains, RVF can progress to internal bleeding, liver failure, brain inflammation, and blindness. The death rate is only 1% but rises to 50% if bleeding occurs.

3. Oropouche

Another virus that has recently been expanding its range and which is spread by mosquitoes of the genus Culex. This is always bad since Culex has a far wider distribution than the Aedes mosquitoes that spread Zika or the sandflies that spread Leishmaniasis.

Whether Oropouche’s recent expansion out of its Amazonian heartland to neighboring parts of South America is just a local fluctuation or the beginnings of a Zika-esque global tour, remains to be seen. Oropouche is normally a self-limiting fever with loss of appetite, headaches, and vomiting, but the occasional meningitis complication is more concerning.

4. Mayaro

It is characterized by fever, rash, and pain. Mayaro is a distant relative of Chikungunya, and is spread by Aedes mosquitoes, Mayaro made a recent visit at Haiti and has beat its Amazonian rival Oropouche to the coveted title of “the next Zika”. Mayaro, like cholera, maybe just another infectious disease that took advantage of the degradation of Haiti’s already impoverished health infrastructure by the 2010 earthquake.

5. Elizabethkingia

It is the bacterial pathogen on the list and the only one that isn’t spread by biting insects and the only one that is found worldwide. So Elizabethkingia won’t be expanding its range but may be expanding its clinical impact in a world where antibiotics can no longer be relied upon to save our lives from bacterial infections.

Even though Elizabethkingia isn’t in possibly coming soon category but is already here. It includes symptoms from pneumonia to meningitis to sepsis, which together with recent increases in virulence and antibiotic resistance, make it a potentially formidable adversary.

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