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10
Sep
2013

Throughout history, the human race has survived several epidemics. With each disease came different symptoms, treatments and prognoses. Some had bigger impacts than others; some were fought with medicine while others became immune. Is the zombie trend just a tactic to sell movies, or is it foreshadowing of a mass disease that we could be faced with?

Most of these pandemics are enough to make you feel queasy just thinking about them. From syphilis and the Black Death to tuberculosis and small pox, they all come with nasty side effects, aches, and pains that could keep you in bed for weeks — if they do not kill you.

One mass disease that could be next on the horizon is viral hemorrhagic fever (VHF). These cause damage to the respiratory system, with fevers spiking over 101 degrees Fahrenheit and accompanied by heavy bleeding inside or outside the body. The scariest thing about VHF? There is no standard treatment for it, meaning physicians will be winging it if this illness ever manifests around the planet.

Here’s an infographic that will walk you through what outbreaks have occurred, the affect it had on us, and what might be the next great pandemic.

 The Next Great Pandemic Infographic

Ebola: An Outbreak in Africa

Ebola is a type of VHF found in humans. In 2014, thousands of citizens in Sierra Leone and Liberia came down with Ebola, a disease that has an extremely high mortality rate. In 30 outbreaks over the past 40 years, Ebola has been fatal in more than half of cases.

It is difficult to treat Ebola effectively in Africa, where most of the deadly outbreaks have occurred, because of the lack of modern medicine and resources. Many cases have gone undiagnosed until the person who is sick infects others in the family. The dense populations and high mobility rate of citizens in these countries have also made it hard to control the rampant pace of the disease.

Social unrest has also played a factor in the high mortality rate. After years of civil war and disagreements between different tribes, many people in Africa do not trust their government. They are suspicious of the suggestions the authorities give, despite the fact that these suggestions could help curb the spread of the illness.

Anti-Microbial Resistant: The Super Diseases

Scary as Ebola is, anti-microbial resistant (AMR) diseases are equally as terrifying. These maladies have built up a resistance to medicine, meaning they cannot be treated by a simple inoculation or antibiotic. In essence, the germs have developed super-strength, becoming more powerful than the drugs used to treat them.

Diseases that have become anti-microbial resistant include:

  • Tuberculosis
  • Gonorrhea
  • Influenza
  • Shigellosis
  • Malaria

Extreme Flu or Worse?

When we think of pandemics, we tend to think of virulent plagues that are capable of felling entire city populations. But even a virus as seemingly simple as influenza — which millions of people contract and recover from each year — can be deadly without the right treatment. A different strain of flu, the highly pathogenic avian influenza A (HPAI H5N1), does not have an effective treatment, and 60 percent of those who contract the disease die from it. Fifteen countries have reported cases of H5N1 since 2003.

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