Respiratory Infection Outbreaks

Respiratory disease outbreaks are a common public health problem and investigating them can be a challenge - CDC

Respiratory Infection Outbreaks
Respiratory Infection Outbreaks

image by: China Daily

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A short history of respiratory illness epidemics (1)

Although it has been known since antiquity that certain diseases are very contagious, and that their transmission can be stopped by isolating the ill from healthy people, that line of thought in general was not applied to respiratory infections or illnesses. The reason for that is that only in the late nineteenth century the role of viruses and bacteria in respiratory infections became clear, and that respiratory infections therefore can be contagious. Epidemic respiratory infections with flu-like symptoms have been described with some regularity since antiquity though. In Hypocrates’ Book of Epidemics, written around 410 BCE for example, we already find a description of a very contagious…

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 A short history of respiratory illness epidemics (1)

Confusingly, respiratory infections which can present with very similar symptoms, such as the common cold, flu, and covid-19, are caused by completely different viruses, which do not belong to the same taxonomic and morphological families. Cold virus (Rhinovirus) is part if the Picornaviridae family; the four influenza viruses (A,B,C,D) are part of the Orthomyxoviridae family, and corona viruses such as are part of the Orthocoronavirinae family.

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