Zika and Ebola were unknown to many until recent times. The two diseases had huge outbreaks that posed a great threat to the global health.
In this week’s Scrubbing Up by (BBC), Dr. Seth suggests that Zika and Ebola may just be the beginning as other outbreaks may soon follow.
Initially, it started with Ebola and now we have Zika virus.
The two diseases have been in existent for decades and one common fact is that when we most needed the vaccines to the two, we couldn’t get. So what is really happening?
Being caught off-guard, not once but twice, in succession can be quite confusing. Could this be a reason to worry that more is yet to come?
At first glance, you may not see the common fact between the two; one is a tricky virus and difficult to catch while the other is a ferocious killer and its spreading is so ease. It however has minimal effect on a majority of the people infected.
But still in both incidences, there is a similarity on the manner in which people are affected making the outbreaks’ threat more severe.
When talking of the global health security, the occurrences is a real concern.
What is more worrying is the changing trend on how animal and human migration happens, the increase in density of mega cities and rapid urbanization as well as climate change.
What changed in the Ebola incident was its ability to spread.
Historically, Ebola was its own worst enemy. The virus attacked its hosts before they could have a chance to infect others and thus limiting the virus. Thus, for decades, the outbreaks were confined just in small areas that were relatively unpopulated.
The changes in West Africa were that the virus, for the first time, gained the ability to spread out to urban areas and in the process spread exponentially.
Zika on the other hand, is slightly different. It has for a long time been termed as a benign disease. It would produce mild symptoms.
Due to its limited effects, the spread of the disease was of very little concern to many continents.
Currently, the mosquito-borne virus has caused a major global health tension, more so in Brazil where the outbreak was first witnessed.
Research points the disease to be a case of microcephaly. If so, then it is not clear as to why seven decades have passed ever since Zika was discovered and still its horrific complications could not be observed.
The good news is that there is an idea on where our attention should be focused on. In December, the World Health Organization brought together scientists that came up with a list of “most wanted viruses,” Ebola and other haemorrhagic fevers such as Lassa fever and Marburg included.
Other three serious diseases that required attention were also flagged, Zika was one of them.
It is not a surprise to see any of the diseases on the list.
The lesson that Zika and Ebola have given as is that we cannot assume that pathogens will maintain their behavior throughout.
We should act and not wait for the disease to act.