3.3 Recurrent Outbreaks

Medicine has come a long way, and human beings have been able to deal with diseases much more effectively and efficiently than ever before. However, pathogens have also evolved with humans and keep presenting us with disease mutations resistant to our interventions.

Some of these infections are recurring as opposed to some that we do not see again. The exact causes of this differentiation are partially known, but pathogen mutation and the evolving human lifestyle are two key factors underlying this phenomenon.

Some diseases remerge after a decline within a population. This is specifically relevant to the overuse of antibiotics that give rise to antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which become much harder to combat using previous interventions.

Recurrent outbreaks of viral infections also occur due to the rapidly mutating strains and stronger survival strategies developed by these pathogens. Interventions against one strain of a virus can be bypassed when the virus adapts and quickly changes to infect the same population after an initial decline in the disease spread.

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