4 Killer Disease Outbreaks

by | Aug 1, 2014 | Health

Ebola in Africa gets all the screen time in big Hollywood blockbusters, but there are stacks of disease outbreaks. Protect yourself.

This gastro-intestinal bug puts 70 000 people in the hospital and kills 800 annually, according to the CDC. “There is a very large number of different strains of norovirus,” says Dr Gregory Poland, founder of the Mayo Clinic’s Vaccine Research Group. “We’ll never be immune to all of them.” Norovirus spreads through feces and is commonly transmitted by food and food workers who don’t wash their hands. Dining at home, tonight?

Active guys often catch it from water contaminated by the parasite giardia, says Poland – one reason not to drink from a stream. It also spreads through improperly chlorinated pool water; water quality should be tested at least twice a day. (Public pool? Ask the staff about the schedule.) And it can spread through poop. So change a nappy, wash your hands, Dad.

TB spreads through the air after a nearby infected person sneezes, wheezes or coughs. It’s a massive problem in South Africa mostly because people with HIV are more likely to catch it and the bacterium has mutated and is now resistant to many antibiotics. Got a nasty cough? Get tested at a local clinic asap.

The pertussis (whooping cough) bug is transmitted through coughs or sneezes; 27 550 cases were reported in 2010. The Tdap vaccine (which covers tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis in one convenient dose) came out in 2005, so if your last inoculation was before that, you may not be protected against pertussis. Dad alert: kids can catch the potentially fatal bug from you, so make sure you update your vaccinations pronto.

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