Special Issue on Understanding Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases
Recent developments in medicine and anti-microbial treatment based on intensive research on basic microbiology have successfully been controlling many infectious diseases to be nonfatal. As stated by Dr. Nobuhiko Okabe in the first section of this issue, emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases still threaten human lives and health both in developing and industrialized countries. A multiprefectural outbreak of enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) O111 and O157 due to raw beef consumption took the lives of victims, including young children, earlier this year in Japan, following which people worldwide were panicked by news from Europe of a huge outbreak of EHEC O104. Infectious diseases result from interaction between pathogens and humans including our behaviors.
The Journal of Disaster Research has already drawn readers’ attention to infectious diseases in its special issue on “Our Social Activities Are Always Related to Outbreaks of Infectious Diseases,” with Guest Editor Dr. Masayuki Saijo in JDR Vol.4, No.5, October, 2009. That issue reviewed the background behind infectious disease emergence and reemergence using examples of viral diseases that could cause serious public health concerns, and emphasized the need for preparedness and responses, including against bioterrorism.
The present issue again reminds readers of the threat of infectious diseases by demonstrating bacterial and viral infections, focusing more on basic knowledge about these pathogens. Disease history, and epidemiology and the microbiological nature of pathogens and infection pathways are summarized. Treatment, vaccination and other control measures, and law and other social systems for controlling disease are also reviewed.
We believe that a better understanding of pathogens will enable society to build better strategies for overcoming problems with emerging and reemerging infectious diseases, such as appropriate preventive measures, treatment and control for preventing outbreaks from expanding. We also hope that such considerations are also useful to disaster control experts in other areas.
I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the authors and reviewers for their great contributions to this issue, and to the Editorial Board and the Secretariat of the Journal of Disaster Research for their continuous encouragement and assistance.