Published on 17. January 2017

Infectious diseases - a new one every year

Infectious diseases are the most common cause of death worldwide. Every year, a new one is added to the existing ones.

Most of the new dangerous pathogens originate from the animal kingdom, for example in bird flu, Sars, AIDS and BSE. The number of these pathogens is increasing - reasons for this include the fact that society, technology and the environment are undergoing processes of change that favor the further development and greater spread of pathogens. Population growth also plays a role: In the 20th century, the number of people on earth quadrupled to around six billion - today it is around 7.5 billion. On the one hand, people are moving closer together.

On the other hand, however, the expansion of trade relations and increasing travel have brought them into almost every corner of the globe and brought them into contact with almost all animals and plants - and thus also with new pathogens. Thanks to improved hygiene and nutrition, the average life expectancy of people in industrialized countries in particular has almost doubled from 35 to 66 years in the 20th century. And vaccines have ensured that smallpox has been virtually eliminated and polio and measles have been significantly reduced. Nevertheless, the pathogens cannot be permanently defeated, and some, such as HIV or the diarrhea pathogen Campylobacter, are even spreading more rapidly today. The reasons for this are that the pathogens are clever, and they are constantly changing their faces. In addition, there is an increasing development of resistance to antibiotics. Dr. Hartmut Stocker is a senior physician at the Center for Infectiology and HIV at Vivantes Auguste-Viktoria Hospital. "Infectiology at our clinic is the largest German treatment center for people with HIV and AIDS, as well as tuberculosis, tropical diseases and all other infectious diseases. We place great emphasis on interdisciplinary collaboration with other specialties to ensure rapid diagnosis and the best possible treatment for our patients." The center also offers advice and support for questions about traveling to tropical and non-tropical countries.

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