For years, the global health community has raised concern about the growing resistance of microorganisms to antibiotics. Antimicrobial resistance has been increasing year by year, and scientists estimate that approximately 10 million people could die every year as a result of antimicrobial resistance by 2050.
In 2018, an Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Challenge – a yearlong effort to accelerate the fight against antimicrobial resistance across the globe – was launched at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in September. In a recent publication by the World Health Organisation (WHO), AMR has been listed as one of the top 10 health threats of 2019.
Why all the fuss? Should you worry about AMR?
AMR is an emerging global health emergency that threatens all countries in different ways and to varying extents, according to a report the major causes of morbidity and mortality in Nigeria are communicable diseases, and these are generally managed using antimicrobial drugs whose usefulness is being threatened by antimicrobial resistance. Antimicrobials are a cornerstone of disease management in Nigeria and there is a pressing need to discover how best to conserve them.
While there is a vast option on managing AMR, EpidAlert has committed to curating and developing contents that can drive policies and actions that protect people and animals from infectious diseases, misuse of antimicrobial and by extension antimicrobial resistance. We will begin with the reason why we need antimicrobials in the first place: Infectious Diseases.
What are Infectious Diseases?
According to the WHO, Infectious diseases are disorders caused by pathogenic microorganisms. These include bacteria, viruses, parasites or fungi. Many of these organisms live in and on our bodies. They can be harmless or even helpful, but some of them may cause diseases under certain conditions.
Some disease can be spread directly or indirectly from person to person, while some are transmitted by bites from insects or animals. Other diseases may be caused by ingesting contaminated food, water or being exposed to organisms in the environment.
Types of Infectious diseases
Most infectious disease will be caused by one of four types of germs:
- Bacterial infections: Bacteria – single-celled organisms that reproduce themselves, by themselves. There are trillions of strains of bacteria, and few of these cause diseases in humans. Some of them live inside the human body without causing harm, however, some bacterial diseases are deadly.
Bacterial infections can be treated with antibiotics, but some strains become resistant and can survive the treatment.
- Viral Infections: Viral infections are caused by a virus – microorganisms that cannot reproduce themselves; they take over the cells they infect in order to reproduce and spread.
Viruses can often be prevented through vaccines. Antiviral medications help in some cases. They can either prevent the virus from reproducing or boost the host’s immune system.
Antibiotics are not effective against viruses. Using antibiotics against a virus will not stop the virus, and it increases the risk of antibiotic resistance.
Most treatment aims to relieve symptoms while the immune system combats the virus without assistance from medicine.
- Fungal Infections are caused by Fungi: Most fungi are harmless to humans and some are edible. Other fungi can be infectious and may lead to life-threatening diseases.
Fungal infections often affect the lungs, skin or nails. Some infections may also penetrate the body to affect organs and cause whole-body infections.
- A single-celled organism with a nucleus can cause a protozoan infection. Protozoa commonly show features similar to animals, such as mobility, and can survive outside of the human body. They are most commonly transferred by contact with feces.
Over the next few weeks, we will be discussing common infectious diseases, what they are, how they are transmitted, symptoms, management, cure (if any) and most importantly, how to prevent them and stay safe