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Virus Outbreaks – why are we seeing more of these? Here's what to know

Posted at 5:58 PM, Oct 24, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-24 17:58:12-04

Seven children have died due to a virus outbreak in New Jersey. 11 others are infected and all of these cases happened at a medical facility. Health officials have announced the Adenovirus is the cause of this deadly outbreak.  

With the reports of the polio-like illness AFM striking children, and now this Adenovirus outbreak, it seems like illnesses and diseases are on the rise.  Why might this be happening?

Lots of viruses and illnesses with scary names and alarming consequences are certainly circulating. The sad reality is that we are seeing new infectious diseases. Over the last 25 years here in the US there has been over a dozen new diseases crop up.

Now there are several factors at play as to why this is happening. Some evolve from natural processes. For example, bacteria can reproduce in minutes and this can lead to mutation opportunities. And the flu as we know is able to change its genetic information. Which our bodies don’t recognize so we don’t defend against it and we get sick. Other reasons are due to our behavior and changing lifestyles.  More people on earth mean more living areas. 

We’re moving into wilderness areas which means we’re closer to animals. And many new infectious diseases originate in animals. We’re also urbanizing and living closer together, which makes it easy to pass bugs. And domestic and international mass transport allow us to move freely around the world, bringing infections and viruses anywhere sick people go.  

People are really concerned. What sort of questions could they ask their doctor to help give peace of mind?

I love helping people become their own health hero. It's important for you to take charge of your health and that includes being involved in your healthcare. So when you see your doctor you can ask:

  • What are my risks if I pick-up an infectious disease?
  • What prevention steps can I take?
  • Am I up to date on my vaccinations?
  • Do I have a compromised immune system? 

That’s really important to know because infectious disease can really hit those with compromised immune system harder because the body can’t defend itself that well against illnesses. 

Parents are really worried, what sort of questions can they ask their school?

As a parent, I can completely relate.  Here are some questions to ask:

  • Does the school discuss good hand washing practices with children and its staff?
  • How does the school stay clean?
  • How often are materials and frequently touched surfaces cleaned and disinfected?
  • How does the school prevent infections, it this possible?
  • Do they provide alcohol-based hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes in the classrooms?

Now I know its scary hearing of outbreaks, but research shows they appear to be declining per capita.  And the good news is that improvements in prevention, along with early detection, control and treatment are helping to lower how many people get infected.