Six Other Respiratory Conditions Healthcare Systems are Watching

The fast spread of COVID-19, a respiratory condition, has healthcare systems focused on other diseases that could spread using the same method.  Kalorama Information’s Emerging Infectious Disease Diagnostics report: ( details multiple types of viruses that are being tracked worldwide, many that have jumped from developing nations to developed ones.  These are some of the known infectious disease threats, and there is the possibility there could be unknown pathogens as well.

Streptococcus pyogenes (group A streptococcus, GAS) colonizes the throat or skin and is responsible for a broad spectrum of diseases that range from simple and uncomplicated pharyngitis and skin infections (impetigo, erysipelas, and cellulitis) to scarlet fever and life-threatening invasive illnesses including pneumonia, bacteremia, necrotizing fasciitis, streptococcal toxic shock syndrome (TSS), and sequelae such as acute rheumatic fever, reactive arthritis and glomerulonephritis.

Chlamydia pneumoniae [unrelated to the sexually transmitted disease] can trigger pulmonary infections.  Prevalence in the general population is high, reaching up to 70%.  Asymptomatic progression of an infection with Chlamydia pneumonia is often problematic because a primary infection may not be diagnosed until it has led to chronic conditions like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Acute pharyngitis or Strep throat is one of the most frequent illnesses for which pediatricians and other primary care physicians are consulted, with an estimated 15 million visits per year in the United States.

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which causes infection of the lungs and breathing passages, is a major cause of respiratory illness in young children.

“These are some of the known respiratory system-based infectious disease threats, and there is the possibility there could be unknown pathogens as well.”

Bordetella pertussis is the microorganism that causes the whooping cough; a very contagious infectious disease worldwide spread that affects mainly children aged 0 to 4.  Whooping cough was once a terrible menace to children, with hundreds of thousands of cases reported annually.  Then a vaccine drove cases down, and the illness became thought of as rare and even antiquated.  But it never totally disappeared; in 2018 the World Health Organisation reported 151,074 pertussis cases globally.  Based on 2008 data the WHO estimated that there were 89,000 deaths.

Discovered in 2001, human metapneumovirus (HMPV) shares many symptoms with the flu.  Research has shown that HMPV is one of the most common causes of acute respiratory infections.  For otherwise healthy children and adults, it tends to be a minor illness, but can be serious for populations including the very young, the very old and people with underlying health problems, such as asthma or chronic heart disease.

Besides respiratory conditions, diarrheal disease, also known as gastroenteritis (GI), affects approximately 1.7 billion people each year and is a leading cause of child morbidity and mortality worldwide and especially in developing countries. In the United States alone, 99 million cases of GI infection occur annually, leading to over 250,000 hospitalizations and 17,000 deaths.  Shiga toxin-producing E. coli are commonly associated with food- and water-borne outbreaks of diarrheal illness.  E. coli O157 is the most well-known strain and has been responsible for numerous outbreaks.

These diseases and others are a continued focus of development for in vitro diagnostic manufacturers.