The Cycle of Disease – It’s Just our Time


COMMENT: Sir,

     It’s interesting, since your post on Madagascar and the pneumonic plague, I have Surveilled a site dealing with medical news once a week. What’s really interesting is the resurgence of older well-known entities such as cholera
      Zambia has been hard hit with over 2000 cases of cholera with close to 50 deaths. The university is closed as well as other institutions. It has migrated from the urban areas to the suburban areas. The armed forces have been called out to help. Tanzania has shut its borders with Zambia due to this. Kenya has had 4 kid cases of hospitalization.
Influenza strains are hitting geographic regions. The H3n2 is has hit Australia very hard and is currently hitting the UK. The US is also being infected. India has the H1N1 variant hitting them hard.

ProMED-mail post

The avian flu has led to the culling of birds in the Middle East particularly Egypt and Iran. Saudia Arabia just had 6 new cases. Russia and Swiss poultry also have cases.
China has Influenza B hitting them hard but cannot confirm type nor number of cases and comparison numbers.

When it rains…. it pours.

Keep up the good work

DK

REPLY: The influenza virus changes its genetic makeup every year and complies with guess what – cyclical analysis! This constantly changing virus presents a cyclical challenge to medical science, and consequently, this makes it impossible to create a single vaccine to prevent the disease for life. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) monitor each new strain of influenza virus as it appears. The gather data and then try to predict which may be the predominant virus in the following year’s flu season.  Scientists then use this data to develop a vaccine each year against the specific virus they predict will predominate. Sometimes they are correct, and sometimes they are off the mark.

The virus known as influenza is a master at evolving to elude the human immune response by mutating so quickly that it soon becomes unrecognizable. We are actually at war with this virus which is mutating to survive and beat us at our own game. There are actually several active flu strains in the world that run around. Each year, we try to evaluate which strains of flu virus are predominant in the United States and change the vaccine recipe as necessary according to this cycle in nature. The accuracy of the recipe determines how effective that year’s vaccine will be.

Make no mistake about it, this is nature’s way of thinning the herd. We can give it our best shot at trying to combat disease, but it responds to our actions and mutates. This is simply a war with nature determined to win.

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