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  • Infectious Diseases












  • Infectious Diseases

    Infectious Diseases

    Infectious diseases are illnesses caused by the invasion and reproduction of foreign microorganisms, termed pathogens, in the human body. These pathogens may be bacterial, viral, parasitic, and even fungal.

    Some pathogens do not strictly follow the cycle of infection. Certain parasites need an external animal host to complete its own life cycle. In addition, there is currently much debate on the correct classification of the prions. Viruses marginally fall under the umbrella of a "microorganism", but prions are simply proteins normally found in humans that have been improperly folded.

    Measles

      Description

      Also called Rubeola, it is an infectious disease caused by the measles virus. Primarily affecting the respiratory system and also characterized by a rash, it is most prevalent in winter and spring.

      Cause

      It is a highly infectious disease, caused by the measles virus entering the respiratory system. The virus is found in the mucus of the nose and throat of the infected individual and is spread by droplet infection (eg. coughing and sneezing). Symptoms appear approximately 10-12 days following exposure.

      Signs and Symptoms

      The first outward signs of infection are cold-like symptoms such as tiredness, runny nose, red eyes, and a cough. These are accompanied by a high fever of up to 105 F(40.6 C). These symptoms escalate over the next 4 days and Kopliks spots appear in the mouth. These spots are small, reddened areas with a blue-white centre, and are characteristic of measles, often aiding in diagnosis.

      The measles rash appears approximately 14 days after exposure, and there is still a high fever at this time. It begins as small red/brown spots, which then blend together. The rash begins on the forehead and gradually moves downwards and out to the limbs, over the next 3 days. Symptoms usually wane and then disappear 2 days after this.

      Overall the illness usually last around 14 days. The rash fades about 4 days after it reaches it's peak, again beginning at the head and moving downwards and outwards.

      Possible complications of measles include; conjunctivitis, blindness, encephalitis, pneumonia, bronchitis, bronchiolitis, hepatitis, seizures and heart damage.

      Treatment

      There is no specific treatment for measles if no complications arise. Plenty of fluids should be offered during the fever, and anti-pyretics (for fever) may be administered.

      Prevention

      Measles can be prevented by use of a vaccine. It is often given in conjunction with mumps and rubella vaccination (MMR). Usually 2 doses are administered to provide full protection.
    SARS

    The Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) was first discovered in southern China around winter 2002. Due to initially poor reporting and containment procedures, this respiratory disease soon became a worldwide concern with over 8000 infected individuals in early 2003. SARS was eventually contained in July 2003, with only a few cases of infection later that year.



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