Reports of the recent plague outbreak in Madagascar were scary. But what about other diseases and epidemics we should be looking out for?
The National Institute for Communicable Diseases in South Africa are advising travellers returning from the southern African region should be aware of a number of infectious disease risks related to travel to include malaria, cholera, typhoid, African tick bite fever, East African trypanosomiasis and various mosquito-borne viruses (e.g. dengue, chikungunya, West Nile).
The mosquito-borne virus that causes Rift Valley fever may severely injure human fetuses if contracted by mothers during pregnancy, according to new research.
In late December, two teams of researchers reported that fruit bats in Sierra Leone tested positive for the Marburg virus, marking the first time the deadly disease has been detected in West Africa. Like Ebola, Marburg is a highly contagious hemorrhagic fever virus that can be transferred to humans. Because of the work of scientists like Thomas Geisbert, Ph.D., a professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB Health) who has dedicated his career to these hemorrhagic viruses, the threat of an outbreak seems more manageable than in years past. TMC News Senior Writer Alexandra Becker spoke to Geisbert to discuss the importance of ongoing surveillance efforts, fears about the current Ebola outbreak in the Congo, the lifesaving vaccines he helped develop and what remains to be done to prevent a Marburg epidemic.