Deadly Diseases and Epidemics Anthrax PDF
16.60 MB PDF
In the 1960s, infectious diseases—which had terrorized generations— were tamed. Building on a century of discoveries, the leading killers of Americans both young and old were being prevented with new vaccines or cured with new med i c i n e s . The risk of death from pneumonia, tuberculosis, meningitis, influenza, whooping cough, and diphtheria declined dramatically. New vaccines lifted the fear that summer would bring polio, and a global campaign was approaching the global eradication of smallpox . New pesticides like DDT cleared mosquitoes from homes and fields, thus reducing the incidence of malaria which was present in the southern United States and a leading killer of children worldwide. New technologies produced safe drinking water and removed the risk of cholera and other water-borne diseases. Science seemed unstoppable. Disease seemed destined to almost disappear.
But the euphoria of the 1960s has evaporated.
Microbes fight back. Those causing diseases like TB and malaria evolved resistance to cheap and effective drugs . The mosquito evolved the ability to defuse pesticides . New diseases emerged, including AIDS, Legionnaires, and Lyme disease. And diseases which haven’t been seen in decades re-emerge, as the hantavirus did in the Navajo Nation in 1993. Technology itself actually created new health risks. The global transportation network, for example, meant that diseases like West Nile virus could spread beyond isolated regions in distant countries and quickly become global threats. Even modern public health protections sometimes failed, as they did in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1993 which resulted in 400,000 cases of the digestive system illness cryptosporidiosis. And, more recently, the threat from smallpox, a disease completely eradicated, has returned along with other potential bioterrorism weapons such as anthrax.
The lesson is that the fight against infectious diseases will never end.
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