Public perception of infectious diseases


Reply to two prompts in 100 words each. No sites are needed, these are just thoughts on the prompts.

(Original prompt for your consideration,

Public perception of infectious diseases is managed and mismanaged through a variety of channels. Sometimes the population may have knowledge of a disease only from seeing a movie. Choose a highly contagious disease. Compare the scientific information about it with how its effects are portrayed/communicated to the public.

Approach this discussion by answering the following questions. When you have the information, compare your answers to how you think the public perceives the contagious disease.

  • What are the symptoms, and what causes them?
  • How has it been studied?
  • What are the defenses that enable it to survive and spread?
  • How can immunity be established? )

Prompt 1:  For this exercise, I have elected to speak of mumps. Before the United States started the mump vaccine program in 1967, about 186,000 cases were reported each year. It can be fatal; however, its occurrence is exceptionally rare. It has been known to cause testicular inflammation, swollen ovaries, viral meningitis, pancreatitis, permanent deafness in children, and occasionally, encephalitis.

It is a highly contagious viral infection that can be transmitted by droplets or contact, much like the cold and flu. Its average incubation period is 17 days. While swelling of the parotid (salivary) glands which produces the cheeks to puff out, along with pain, tenderness, and difficulty swallowing are its most common symptoms, some of its more generalized symptoms include headache, joint pain, dry mouth, and a temperature of or above 38 degrees Celsius.

The first written description of the mumps dates as far back, as the 5th century B.C. when Hippocrates described an outbreak on the Greek island of Thasos. While various studies had been carried out through the 19th and 20th centuries the viral etiology of mumps was finally discovered by Claud D. Johnson and Ernest W. Goodpasture in 1934 when they concluded that Rhesus monkeys infected with a virus found in specimens of saliva from patients exhibiting the initial stages of mumps, went on to contract the disease themselves. In 1945 the virus was first isolated, allowing for an inactivated vaccine to be developed in 1948.

Unfortunately, this vaccine had short-term effectiveness, it was not until 1967 when the FDA licensed Mumpsvax, a vaccine developed by Maurice Hilleman. Thus far, true immunity has not been established. Interestingly, many believe that by receiving the vaccine they are immune to the virus, when, having received the mumps vaccine is no guarantee that you will not contract the mumps. Perhaps, there is not enough literature explaining the disease and the vaccine. Then again, it may be due to our own disinterest which enables it to survive and spread.

Prompt 2:

I will be discussing the 2009 H1N1 (swine flu) outbreak. I was watching a documentary about this outbreak the other day and thought it would be an interesting topic, especially we are going through another outbreak.

The symptoms of H1N1 are similar to symptoms of COVID or seasonal flu such as fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, headache, body aches, chills, and fatigue. H1N1 is a strain of an influenza virus that originated in pigs but it is now getting spread from person to person. It is being transmitted through a droplet, which means staying away from people who are coughing and sneezing. It has been studied by examining the blood and mucous sample of patients. Since this is a strain of influenza, they already have a background of other strains.

When pigs become simultaneously infected with more than one virus, the viruses can swap genes, producing new variants which can transfer to humans and get spread human to human. The viruses were able to link, mutate then form new strains that had variable immunity due to coinfection with the influenza virus from multiple animal species. Even though it had originated in pigs, it was able to spread to humans. When the flu spreads to humans, there can be further mutations that make it harder to treat since we do not have natural immunity.

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