The Truth About West Nile, SARS, and Monkey Pox - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

6/19/03

The Truth About West Nile, SARS, and Monkey Pox

First it was SARS, then West Nile, and now Monkey Pox. Maybe you've wondered where are all these weird diseases are coming from?

For example, last year, we had never even heard of SARS. Now, it's a household word.

Scientists say the virus originated in a cat-like creature called a Civet in China. People ate the cat, got the virus, and then passed it on to others who then traveled to the U.S. and infected more people.

You know that mosquitoes are blamed for spreading the West Nile Virus, which is detected now in 44 states.

So far, almost 40 people are suspected of having Monkey Pox in the midwest. Scientists believe that infection originated in a Gambian giant rat which infected a prairie dog, imported to a pet store in the U.S.

From Monkey Pox to the West Nile Virus, scientists say these emerging diseases are the result of us living in a global village. And as world travel and trade increase, they predict we'll see more strange viruses making their way to the U.S.

But here's what you need to know. Infectious disease specialists say there is no reason to panic over this, especially when you put it in perspective.

"I don't think we need to lie awake worrying about these diseases. While they are important from a public health perspective, the infectious diseases that are the biggest killers are pneumonia and influenza," says Dr. ______________________.

And there's a reason, he says that these new diseases are not as infectious here as they are among other cultures, and that's better hygiene. Because the best way to protect ourselves against emerging infections is simply to wash your hands.

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