Biologia, Bratislava, 56/Suppl. 9: 3-7, 2001.

ISSN 0006-3088 (Biologia). ISSN 1335-6399 (Biologia. Section Cellular and Molecular Biology).

 

Review

Newly emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases.

 

Daniela Kotulova* & Livia Slobodnikova

Institute of Microbiology, Faculty of Medicine, Comenius University, Sasinkova 9, SK-81108 Bratislava, Slovakia; tel.: ++ 421 7 59357206, fax: ++ 421 7 59357583, e-mal: mikrob@fmed.uniba.sk

* corresponding author

Received: December 18, 2000 / Accepted: April 23, 2001

 

Abstract

Infectious diseases are still dramatically affecting public health in global dimensions, in spite of the success of the 20th century medicine. Viruses represent the most serious threat for the future from the point of view of prevention as well as therapy, considering their ability to change rapidly their genetic information. Bacteria are also capable of mutation and acquisition of new genetic information from other bacteria, enabling them to generate new factors of virulence and to cause diseases with new clinical symptoms. Microorganisms acquire genes providing them with resistance to antimicrobial drugs and disinfectants, as well as with possibilities to create new antigens that affect both prevention and therapy. There is a reappearance of illnesses, such as diphtheria, which had been steadily receding in the second half of the last century. Changing lifestyle is another factor contributing to the increased spreading of infections. New diagnostic problems appear as the result of changing methods of food production and dietary habits in industrialised countries, accompanied with malnutrition in others, as well as of world-wide travel, contacts with new pathogens, life in overcrowded cities, industrial development, exploitation of natural resources, global warming and increasing number of immunocompromised people. Medical research discovered relations between well-known diseases (atherosclerosis, arthritis) and infectious agents. This resulted in changes in the approach to their prevention and treatment. Therefore, medicine in Slovakia needs to update knowledge of the occurrence of new and re-emerging infectious diseases both in Slovakia and abroad, and to organise their diagnostics in laboratories of clinical microbiology.

 

Key words: emerging infections, re-emerging infections, bioterrorism.