مشاركات عشوائية

Surge of overlapping virus outbreaks threatens 'triple outbreak' crisis

featured image

covid cases are on the rise again in many countries. And this time, the SARS-CoV-2 virus has company. In the United States, Europe and Asia, the influenza virus and a dangerous third pathogen, respiratory syncytial virus, are emerging alongside the novel coronavirus.

It’s a “triple epidemic”, to use an admittedly unscientific term. And this is a harbinger of our pathogenic future. As we cut down more and more forests, release more and more animal viruses into the human population — and as misinformation floods social media, pushing vaccine skepticism to surprising heights — epidemics overlapping viruses could become the norm.

add another monkeypox or bird flu epidemic, and we may even experience a “quadrupledemia”. Along with potentially overwhelming health care systems, concurrent outbreaks come with another worrisome risk. Research indicates that they might actually make the other worse.

Epidemiologists expect viral infections to increase during the winter months. People travel for various vacations, dragging their viruses with them and exposing everyone along the way. Cold weather pushes people indoors, where they share air, spit, and any pathogens circulating in the air and spit.

Hence the seasonal flu epidemics that we usually see in the winter. COVID has also developed a seasonal pattern for the same reasons. It is therefore not surprising that COVID cases have started to increase in the United States, Europe and Japan in recent weeks. There is also an alarming increase in new coronavirus infections in China…but there are unique reasons for this.

COVID and influenza were about to begin their usual winter rampage when respiratory syncytial virus also showed up in a big way. At the height of the RSV epidemic in the United States in mid-November, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention connected a case rate five times higher than last year.

The European Division of the World Health Organization summarize the crisis in a dec. 1 declaration. “The region is currently experiencing increasing circulation of influenza and RSV. Along with COVID-19, these viruses are expected to have a significant impact on our health services and populations this winter. »

RSV usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms, and most people recover quickly. In infants and the elderly, however, RSV can be fatal. It is the main cause of pneumonia in newborn babies. Besides the cumulative pressure that RSV and other viruses can place on hospitals when they multiply simultaneously, there are signs that influenza and COVID are making RSV more dangerous – and vice versa.

James Lawler, an infectious disease expert at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, pieced together the clues. “We had relatively normal levels of influenza and RSV activity last year, but with relatively normal hospitalization… [or] consequences of death,” he told The Daily Beast. “This year we have somewhat higher than normal influenza and RSV activity – at least earlier for influenza – and much higher hospitalization rates among young people.”

Last year’s winter COVID outbreak, driven by the Omicron version, may have weakened millions of people who would not normally be at high risk for influenza and RSV. “COVID causes long-lasting disruption of immune function and health effects in people long after acute infection,” Lawler explained.

It is normal to be skeptical about a possible interaction between the three viruses. “It’s hard to say we have hard evidence,” Lawler pointed out. But he noted a little convincingly of detailed proof. “The countries that have better controlled COVID – South Korea, Japan, Taiwan – are do not are experiencing increased levels of hospitalization for influenza or RSV this year. Of course the frequency Influenza and RSV are high in Japan, but the severity is normal and most people recover at home.

Research could eventually prove, or disprove, that the immune effects of a viral infection make a separate, different infection more likely or worse. Until science catches up, we are walking on epidemiological thin ice. Humanity seems determined to expose itself to more and more viruses. At the same time, it’s just as determined do not protect themselves from the effects of these pathogens.

Many of the worst human viruses did not originate in humans. These are animal viruses that have made the jump to homo sapiens after prolonged exposure. Monkeypox was endemic in monkey and rodent populations in West and Central Africa and only became a human problem with the acceleration of African rainforest destruction in the 1970s. being passed from pangolins (a kind of scaly anteater) or bats to humans, possibly at a wildlife market in Wuhan, China. Bird flu, which sometimes rages in human populations, is, as its name suggests, an avian virus.

The more forests we cut down, the more wild animals we trade as pets or for food and the more chickens we cram into factory farms, the more viruses we come into contact with and the greater the risk of transmission from the animal to man is great. A process that scientists call “zoonosis”.

Unless there is a profound change in the way people build and eat, zoonosis will only get worse. “A larger human population overall increases the number of human-animal contact events,” Tony Moody, professor of immunology at the Duke Human Vaccine Institute, told The Daily Beast. There is also a “need to increase food production due to increased population, hence increased contact with domestic animals”.

We could protect ourselves from the worst outcomes with vaccines. But the trends on this front are equally disheartening. As trust in science and more people receive their “news” from conspiracy theorists on social media, vaccine uptake is beginning to suffer.

A quarter of Americans still refuse to get everything Vaccines against covid. Uptake of the latest booster is catastrophically low in the US More people didn’t bother getting the flu shot this year as well. Vulnerable communities eagerly embraced the monkeypox vaccine, Thank Godbut rejection of the proven polio vaccine in a handful of New York counties has led to a rare – and frankly terrifying –increase in polio cases this summer. Poliomyelitis, once widespread, can lead to paralysis in a small number of cases.

Zoonosis and vaccine hesitancy are the twin forces of overlapping viral epidemics that could define our epidemiological future as a species. It’s hard to imagine a time in the foreseeable future when humanity won’t be grappling with at least one major viral outbreak, because it’s hard to imagine humanity rapidly ending deforestation and rapidly reversing the flow of disinformation on the Internet.

Preventable epidemics are here to stay. Probably more than one major virus at a time.

Post a Comment