In the past 100 years, the human race has suffered through many different ailments and diseases ranging from smallpox to measles. We have overcome many of these outbreaks with various antibiotics and vaccines in the past, but various infectious diseases have made a large comeback in the past few years, such as including measles, mumps, and cholera. Although the number of cases of measles has been on the decline, this year’s peak amount of cases reached a high of 342. It seems as though the pains of the past are coming back to strike humankind. You may be wondering, ‘If we have defeated these illnesses in the past, why are outbreaks happening now?’ The causes of these epidemics, although unique and complex, can be attributed to a few major concepts.
Drawing attention to ongoing protests regularly broadcasted in the news outbreaks this past year can be attributed to vaccine refusals. Although many people continue to receive vaccines, there is a significant group of individuals that choose to delay or abstain from being vaccinated. This in part explains the development of outbreaks of measles, due to the fact that it is usually one of the first illnesses to affect unvaccinated individuals. Abstaining from vaccination is a factor as to why some of these ailments are on the rise, but it doesn’t account for all of the resurgences. Mumps and pertussis have had increases in cases world-wide, even with many of the victims being at minimum partially vaccinated. This is due to vaccines having declining immunity over their diseases. The antibodies that were created to protect us from these immunities after given vaccines have ‘forgotten’ how to defend the body from that antigen. A prominent example of recent failing immunity was with a rise in vaccine-preventable mumps outbreak in Scotland in 2015. 67% of those who contracted mumps were completely vaccinated and most of these cases occurred in older adolescents and young adults rather than young children, an odd occurrence. Outbreaks like this have led to the rise of booster vaccines, which promote the continuation of the body’s production of antigens for these traditionally easily vaccinated viruses.
Another global phenomenon that has been an active part of 2019 news has been controversies surrounding climate change. The acts to fight against climate change may not just be important for saving the planet, but also for protecting the human race as well. Since the planet is undergoing extreme temperature changes, there is a variety of adverse outcomes including extreme weather conditions and shifts in global interactions. An example of this is through high rain falls. With a large amount of rain, sewer systems can become overworked, causing water contamination and leading to outbreaks of various diseases such as cholera. Increased warmer temperature can also be prime conditions for mosquito populations to grow both in size and creeping up closer to the earth’s poles. This causes diseases such as malaria to spread across populations as they transport through vectors like mosquitoes.
These aspects outline just a few of the factors that have recently contributed to the rise in outbreaks worldwide but there are various other reasons that exist. Science and medicine are continually working to adapt to these changes in our environment. Even though many of these outbreaks and diseases continue to reappear, our success in conquering other diseases is an incredible feat that would be a shame to overlook.