• Emerging and reemerging diseases: a health problem in the Americas Temas de Actualidad

    Ridel, Guillermo Mesa; Luis, Iraida Rodríguez; Teja, Julio

    Abstract in English:

    In the Region of the Americas the emerging and reemerging infectious diseases that had the greatest impact on health, in terms of their incidence and the number of deaths that they caused during the five-year period of 19992003, were: malaria, yellow fever, dengue hemorrhagic fever, AIDS, anthrax, and SARS, as well as infection by hantavirus and by West Nile virus. The appearance of epidemics of emerging and reemerging diseases is related to biological, social, and economic factors. Growth in international trade, the movement of large numbers of people across national borders, the variability and genetic adaptability of the causative microorganisms, and inefficiencies in public health systems help to spread infections and epidemics. To avoid or reduce the serious effects of these epidemics, countries should give priority in their national agendas to surveillance of emerging and reemerging diseases and should implement a set of measures to combat the diseases. The most important of these measures is to develop a strategy that is based on early warning and rapid response mechanisms, with personnel and laboratories as well as communications networks that link laboratories with health service providers. This strategy should be backed by priority funding and adequate policies.
  • Preparatory guidelines for local health services on how to respond to new cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) Temas de Actualidad

    Abstract in English:

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the United States of America recently issued a set of guidelines on how different community health services should prepare for and respond to the reemergence of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). This document summarizes the recommendations of the CDC for basic health services. Disease surveillance in communities and hospitals should be performed in light of existing information on risk factors, particularly those related to geographic dissemination patterns and to documented transmission of SARS-CoV, the coronavirus that causes SARS. As long as no cases of person-to-person disease transmission are reported anywhere in the world, efforts should be aimed at early detection and notification of cases and of groups of people who are in contact with one another and who have severe respiratory infections of undetermined cause, such as pneumonia, which could signal the reemergence of SARS. If cases of transmission of SARS-CoV have been reported, the aim should be to immediately identify and notify any cases detected in order to take appropriate diagnostic and therapeutic measures and to facilitate outbreak control. The reach of surveillance and reporting activities in specific communities should depend on how widely the disease has spread, both in the community and in local health services. Physicians and public health workers should be familiar with ways to detect SARS cases early, as well as with existing norms for reporting any cases detected.
Organización Panamericana de la Salud Washington - Washington - United States
E-mail: contacto_rpsp@paho.org