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Chapter: Medical Surgical Nursing: Management of Patients With Infectious Diseases

Emerging Infectious Diseases

1. West Nile Virus 2. Legionnaires’ Disease 3. Lyme Disease 4. Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome 5. Ebola and Marburg Viruses 6. Travel and Immigration 7. Diarrheal Diseases

Emerging Infectious Diseases

As defined by the CDC, emerging infectious diseases are dis-eases of infectious origin with human incidences that have in-creased within the past two decades or that are likely to increase in the near future (CDC, 1994). Examples of emerging infectious diseases are presented within this section: West Nile virus, Legionnaires’ disease, Lyme disease, hantavirus pulmonary syn-drome, Ebola and Marburg viruses, and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Table 70-1 provides an overview of infectious diseases, including emerging infectious diseases.


Many factors contribute to newly emerging or re-emerging infectious diseases. These include travel, globalization of food supply and central processing of food, population growth and in-creased urban crowding, population movements (eg, war, famine, disaster), ecologic changes, human behavior (eg, risky sexual behavior, IV/injection drug use), antimicrobial resistance, envi-ronmental sources, and breakdown in public health measures.


These diseases are important from an epidemiologic stand-point because their incidence has not yet stabilized. As physicians and scientists are learning about the pattern of disease in a com-munity, patients and their families often have increased anxiety about these diseases. During times of increased concern about bioterrorism, whether triggered by actual events or by hoaxes, nurses have an increased responsibility to rationally separate facts from fears. In discussions with patients and other caregivers, it is important to keep the focus on what is known and to clarify the plan for diagnosis, treatment, and containment.

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