3 New Generation Diseases Nurses Should Know

The Earth is a fast-paced world. The living things it holds progress quickly, they grow steadily, and they change constantly. Technology, time, and Mother Nature go hand in hand in running the world, and things, living and nonliving, are tossed together in this blend of elements.

However, there are other species that included themselves in the innovation of earthly beings. These are threats to us, and they harm us. These are the diseases that slowly mutate until they become full-fledged destroyers of the human body. One by one, the new generation of diseases are emerging, and as nurses, we have the duty to know them better so we can prevent them earlier.

1. The Bane of Pregnancy: Zika Virus

Motherhood is the best gift a woman can receive for the whole of her life. The miracle of carrying a tiny human being can never be compared to all the discoveries the world has seen. As this is already a natural phenomenon, something innate to all females, humans and animals alike, we always treat any pregnant female with care and love. But like the rest of the world, there is always a threat to everything. And for today’s case, one of the scariest parts of being pregnant is the fear that a foreign substance or body would harm the fetus growing inside the uterus.

Aedes aegypti
Aedes aegypti

Probably one of the most infamous diseases of this generation is a strain of flavivirus, the Zika virus. This virus just recently emerged yet has devastated hundreds of lives already across the globe. The virus is carried by the same carrier that harbors dengue, yellow fever, and chikungunya: the Aedes aegypti mosquito. This virus may cause only mild symptoms of infection to the pregnant mother like fever and rashes. However, the effect that it brings to the newborns is much more alarming. It was found out that pregnant women who have a confirmed case of Zika virus deliver newborns with the condition of microcephaly, a defect that causes a reduced brain development and an abnormally small head.

The rise of the Zika virus is already alarming the entire world. It has started to conquer the Central and South America and is now threatening to overcome Asia. Before we could get tangled in this terrible virus, prevention should best start within our homes. Emptying water-containing vessels that could become breeding places of the mosquito carrier is one step to prevent the spread of the virus. Any vessel that contains water should be emptied. The use of insecticides is also recommended. There can be a potential vaccine for Zika, yet it is better to prevent it even before it reaches the country than to ward it off the moment it has already entered our premises.

2. The Woodland Scare: Lyme Disease

Summer vacation is already fast approaching, and a lot of students might be thinking of going to a camp for an adventure on summer. There is always a mysterious allure that attracts people into going in the woodlands for nature trekking, and for adventurous spirits out there, this could be the perfect place to spend some time to relax. But not only humans inhabit such places, as there can be wild animals around the area. As far as any nature lover is concerned, certain animals like deer are always present in the woodlands. And this now poses a threat to humans who love venturing out in bushy areas.

Deer tick
Deer tick

We may be now familiar with Lyme disease, a disease caused by the bite of deer ticks that dispose of a bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi. However, recent studies revealed that this is not the only species that could cause Lyme disease in humans. A group of patients infected with Lyme disease had their blood tested, and it turned out that B. burgdorferi is not the cause of their disease. Another Borrelia species called Borrelia mayonii has been the culprit of some of the Lyme diseases that affect humans. The tick carrying this bacterium is said to be found at various locations across the United Kingdom and in the United States. The symptoms caused by B. mayonii are just the same as B. burgdorferi with the exception of a relapsing fever for the new bacteria.

This disease is now quite alarming because from the woodland areas it is already progressing to household gardens. Symptoms such as rash, fever, and joint pain are present for those who are infected. The most complicated would be neurological problems. It is now rapidly increasing, and the only thing we could do is to prevent harboring such disease. There are two other bacteria that cause Lyme disease, and with the addition of another one, we need to be very careful.

Prevention constitutes avoiding woody or bushy places with high grass growth. Insecticides are also effective against ticks. If you have just returned from an outdoor adventure, make sure to take a bath immediately and conduct a full-body tick check. Your clothes might harbor these ticks too, so they must be thoroughly inspected, as well as your pets. It is wiser to do the prevention now than regret having the disease later.

3. The Up and Coming: Bourbon Virus

The great outdoors is the best place to spend the summer vacation. Basking in the heat of the sun and getting tanned all over might be a dream for every scrawny, pale student everywhere, so get off those couches and plunge into the outdoors! There might be just one consideration: the various insects that roam outside and everywhere. Would you dare to go out and socialize with them?

Electron micrograph of Bourbon virus. Via: wikipedia.com
Electron micrograph of Bourbon virus. Via: wikipedia.com

There is a new discovery of a new thogotovirus that threatens those who love to be outdoors, especially in bushy areas. Like the Lyme disease, this virus called Bourbon virus can be acquired after getting bitten by a tick or an insect. There is only one isolated case of the Bourbon virus, but scientists fear that the spread would be easy because the carrier is a common insect found everywhere, even in yards and gardens.

For us healthcare providers, you would recognize the symptoms of a Bourbon infected person if he exhibits maculopapular rash with fever, fatigue, nausea and vomiting, and anorexia. Their laboratory studies also show leucopenia and thrombocytopenia. The single patient who had this virus was thought to have a tick-borne disease and was given doxycycline, but his condition just became worse, and he died eventually. No present medication could treat this virus; only symptomatic management could be given to those who will be infected.

That being said, it is better to prevent it than acquire it and go crazy looking for the cure. Avoid bushy areas and wear long sleeved clothes if going out in the woodlands. Insect repellents can be used and be sure to take a bath after going in from a woody area and examine yourself thoroughly for the presence of ticks.

These are just a few of the slowly developing and mutating viruses of this century. This is not meant to scare us, but to prod us into becoming more prepared to fight off the threats to our health as early as possible. We never know what strain of bacteria would be coming out next month or next year, so we must always be on the lookout as healthcare providers. We are not only responsible for our patient’s health, but also with our very own health as well.

Marianne leads a double life, working as a staff nurse during the day and moonlighting as a writer for Nurseslabs at night. As an outpatient department nurse, she has honed her skills in delivering health education to her patients, making her a valuable resource and study guide writer for aspiring student nurses.

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