What is a Preventable Disease?
As its name suggests, a preventable disease is an illness that you can avoid under proper circumstances. The first step in avoiding something dangerous is knowing about it. Knowledge is power; therefore education is your most important tool to master.
Prevention can be done via many forms: by taking medication prior to exposition, being careful around contaminants (mosquitoes, food, water, needles, etc.), and especially by vaccinating yourself.
What Are Some Common Preventable Diseases?
You don’t need to stay at home to prevent diseases. Here’s a list of common preventable diseases thanks to the routine vaccines you most probably took when you were younger. Theses sicknesses can be encountered anywhere. Some places have higher risks than others, but the immunization process remains crucial. Not only is it essential to protect yourself, but vaccinating yourself also protects those who have immunity problems via herd immunity.
What’s a Routine Vaccine?
No one likes getting shots, especially children. Starting with Edward Jenner’s smallpox immunity via cowpox and Louis Pasteur’s rabies vaccination, we have achieved considerable protection against a vast array of diseases. Routine vaccines have been developed to gain immunity to common preventable diseases.
In short, a vaccine fights fire with fire. More specifically, it uses your own immune system to defend yourself from specific illnesses. Basically, when your body detects bacteria, a specific type of white cell eats them up and signals your body to produce other types of white cells to fight them efficiently. Not only do you generate these cells to fight the current disease, but also to resist a possible future appearance of it. Imagine it being like a general spotting the enemy and then recruiting an army; getting ready for today’s and tomorrow’s attack. Your body is a machine, capable of self-defence against these tiny microbes.
Except, like every machine, the body has its flaws. Sometimes, by the time you’ve produced the necessary white cells, the bacteria has caused a lot of damage. They’ve divided and multiplied so much, that your body has a hard time fighting them. If you’re healthy, it’s usually only a matter of time before your body eradicates the disease. If you’re not, then that’s where it becomes dangerous and can lead to severe symptoms or even death.
Vaccines work the same way as your body. You’re injected with a substance that stimulates your immune system but without causing the disease. Therefore you’ll be protected from future occurrences, without having been exposed to nasty symptoms. These substances can be either killed or attenuated bacteria, or bacterial sugars or proteins.
The most vulnerable types of people are children, elderly and the immunodeficient. These groups are more inclined to diseases, but for the same disease, vulnerable groups can have it worse than healthy groups. Children’s immune system is weak and immature, whilst the elderly’s is old and fragile. Immunodeficient people have from weak immune systems to none at all. This last group is very hard to defend because they lack the system to produce soldiers.
Although vaccines don’t immediately affect the immunodeficient, they can still indirectly protect them. By increasing the number of people becoming immune, we can reduce the number of immunodeficient groups catching diseases. Imagine having six castles with armies surrounding one castle in the middle that can’t produce an army. That defenseless castle becomes indirectly protected by all the surrounding armed castles because these have been adequately trained to fight the enemy. This process is also called herd immunity.
What is an Endemic Disease?
An endemic disease is a disease that remains constant in a certain location. These two criteria are important to respect in order to consider a disease to be endemic or not. Be careful, since there’s a difference between an endemic disease and an epidemic one. The latter occurs when the infection rate is exponential (increasingly rising) until it either stops or becomes endemic.
An example of an endemic disease is Malaria. Malaria is endemic in Africa, but not the UK. The opposite can be said for smallpox. On the other hand, AIDS is not endemic, because infection rates are increasingly rising. Therefore, we consider AIDS as an epidemic disease.
What Diseases Have Been Eradicated Through Vaccination?
Throughout history, vaccines managed to eradicate two illnesses.
- Smallpox, a human-related disease
- Rinderpest, a livestock-related disease
Eliminating smallpox was an incredible achievement since it could render you blind or scarred and could kill a third of its victims. Polio has been eradicated from the USA since 1979.
Furthermore proving vaccination effectiveness, there’s also a number of diseases have shown a drastic fall (Malaria) or that approach disappearance (Guinea worm disease). To achieve eradication, diseases must be only transmittable from humans to humans (like smallpox). Sicknesses that are transmitted by animals or insects (called an animal reservoir) are therefore harder to eliminate like Yellow Fever.
It is important to repeat that vaccinations are crucial for this to happen.
Travel Vaccines Offered by Summit Travel health
Other than the preventable diseases above, you’ll need specific vaccinations for illnesses you can encounter during your travels. Fortunately, Summit Travel Health offers a plentitude of vaccines. Take an appointment before you travel in order to your travels fun and sick-free!