Friday, March 13, 2015

Ebola epidemic increases susceptibility to measles

Ebola cycle
Experts from John Hopkins have found the Ebola epidemic has increased susceptibility to measles, with the rate of increase seen to potentially double in the wake of the problems related to the virus that continues to spread in parts of Africa.

The principal problem related to the Ebola virus is the disruption in the health care system, according to the experts.  Much of the public health focus in areas of Africa is on Ebola, so that fewer people are being vaccinated against measles.  This problem may increase the rate of measles as a consequence of resources having been diverted to the greater problem faced by Ebola.  But measles also has the potential to disable and to cause death, so health authorities are particularly concerned about the problem.

In the United States, many hospitals are concerned about the problems related to infectious diseases.  In New Jersey the health care agencies are gearing up to deal with an ever-increasing concern about the consequences related to diseases that are spread from region to region.  These included everything from influenza to Ebola, as well as measles where a recent outbreak occurred in California, then spread to other states.

New Jersey hospitals are asked to be especially vigilant about health problems that occur because of our multicultural society and the fact people now travel back and forth around the world to conduct business or to visit friends and family.

Pat Lafaro, Director of the infection prevention program in New Jersey tells us:  "It's a fact of life today--the spread of disease by people, food-borne outbreaks and other sources is unfortunately inevitable and something hospitals need to be ready to address at any time. With an increase in the number of companies with foreign holdings and active health care groups in the U.S. reaching out to others worldwide, people are constantly going back and forth, especially in a diverse population like New Jersey's."

Tracy Carlino, senior vice president and chief nursing officer at Virtua in South Jersey further underlines the fact that the spread of infectious diseases is a worldwide problem not just an issue in West Africa, as she says, "We've become a multicultural society and you can be anywhere within 24 hours."

Hawaii, the islands that are most distant from any other land mass, has a high rate of tourist travel and people moving from Asia and the Pacific regions to the United States and other countries.  Even in a small Kaiser clinic on the West Coast of Oahu, a sign greets people as they arrive at the clinic to report certain symptoms of Ebola they might be experiencing.  It is the kind of warning of a concern about health that is now seen as potentially impacting everyone.

The poorest people in the world remain at the greatest risk to infectious diseases of many kinds, according to international health experts.

One billion people lack access to health care.  And in 2008 more than 6 million people died from infectious diseases, greater than the number who died from natural disasters.

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