The National Academies: What You Need To Know About Infectious Disease

The National Academies

What You Need To Know About Infectious Disease

Diarrheal Diseases

Diarrheal diseases are defined as having three or more loose stools per day. Caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites, diarrheal diseases are spread through contaminated food or water, or because of poor hygiene practices. Many children with diarrhea also have an underlying condition of malnutrition, making them more vulnerable. Diarrheal diseases kill 1.5 million children under the age of 5 worldwide, making it the second leading cause of death among young children.

Symptoms
There are three main types of diarrhea: acute watery diarrhea, which typically lasts several hours or days and includes cholera; acute bloody diarrhea, also called dysentery; and persistent diarrhea, which lasts 14 days or longer. Diarrhea can cause dehydration, the loss of water and electrolytes—sodium, chloride, potassium, and bicarbonate. Signs of dehydration include thirst, irritability, decreased skin elasticity, and sunken eyes. If dehydration becomes severe, other signs appear, such as loss of consciousness, faint pulse, low output of urine, cool and moist extremities, and low blood pressure. If left untreated, dehydration can result in death.

Treatment
A three-pronged approach is used for treatment of these diseases. Zinc tablets are given to reduce the number of diarrheal episodes, followed by rehydration therapy. For severe dehydration, intravenous solutions are given. For mild or moderate dehydration, a solution of clean water, sugar, and salt is used. Eating a nutritious diet can treat diarrhea and prevent it from reappearing.

Prevention
Access to clean water and improved sanitation can prevent the onset of diarrheal episodes. Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for the first 6 months of life. Education about good personal and food hygiene and how infections are spread also can help prevent diarrheal diseases.

Source:
http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs330/en/index.html

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What do you know about infectious disease?

True or False: Major pharmaceutical companies have great interest in dedicating resources to the antibiotics market because these short-course drugs are more profitable than drugs that treat chronic conditions and lifestyle ailments, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Drugs that treat chronic conditions and lifestyle ailments are more profitable. Modern medicine needs new kinds of antibiotics to treat drug-resistant infections, but antibiotic research and development are expensive, risky, and time-consuming.

  • Correct!

    Drugs that treat chronic conditions and lifestyle ailments are more profitable. Modern medicine needs new kinds of antibiotics to treat drug-resistant infections, but antibiotic research and development are expensive, risky, and time-consuming.

Infectious Disease Defined

Protozoa

A taxonomic group of single-celled microorganisms that live in almost every kind of habitat and include some pathogenic parasites of humans and other animals. 

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