Our Social Activities Are Always Related to Outbreaks of Infectious Diseases
Thanks to the improvement of living standard and hygiene as well as to the development of the therapeutics, such as antimicrobial agents, diagnostics, vaccines, the mortality and morbidity rates due to infectious diseases have been dramatically improved in developed countries. However, the mortality and morbidity of infectious diseases, respiratory and gastrointestinal tract infections are still very high and the leading causes of fatalities in developing countries. Furthermore, emerging and reemerging infections frequently occur locally and internationally. For instance, the 2009 influenza virus A/H1N1-associated pandemic has emerged and raised public anxiety levels. It is evident that we live in an environment in which infectious diseases are commonly transmitted. Human activities are closely related to the emergence of newly identified infectious diseases.
In this issue, the background of the emergence and reemergence of infectious diseases is reviewed. The infectious diseases that might raise public anxiety, such as Nipah encephalitis, rabies, and influenza are focused on and reviewed. The influenza pandemic and imported infectious diseases, which may cross borders, are also reviewed. Infectious diseases associated with natural disasters are reviewed for the sake of future preparedness. The hemorrhagic fevers, such as Ebola and Marburg hemorrhagic fevers, cause severe infections and have very high mortality rates. The diagnostic systems developed for viral hemorrhagic fevers developed in Japan are introduced. The international situation regarding the development of biosafety level 4 (BSL-4) laboratories is introduced. In the review, it is emphasized that BSL-4 laboratories should be operated in Japan, although viral hemorrhagic fevers are not prevalent in Japan. Furthermore, preparedness strategies for large-scale outbreaks of infectious diseases are presented.
I believe these papers will help preparations against the infectious diseases associated with disastrous events. I would be very glad if the readers understood the background of emerging and reemerging infectious diseases and noticed that efficacious preparedness for such infections diseases, preparedness based on the scientific studies and empirical evidence, is urgently required.
Finally, I sincerely appreciate the contributions by the authors of and the reviewers for the papers, which appear in this issue of the journal, Journal of Disaster Research.