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    Emerging pandemics require ‘high degree of alertness’

    San Diego—A number of emerging infectious diseases have made recent headlines—most prominently, the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa—prompting higher levels of vigilance, said Paul Tambyah, MD, PhD, Singapore.

    Though few of these diseases have directly had an impact on the eye, there have been a number of outbreaks of eye infections in recent years.

    These include the global outbreak of Fusarium keratitis associated with contact lens use and smaller outbreaks of microsporidial and Acanthamoeba keratitis, said Dr. Tambyah in a keynote lecture during World Cornea Congress VII preceding the 2015 meeting of the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery.

    More in this issue: Can Schlemm’s canal surgery be glaucoma’s Holy Grail?

    The problem was not so much contamination, but that the contact lens solution was unable to prevent the growth of the fungal organisms,

    As an infectious disease specialist, Dr. Tambyah discussed the case of a 24-year-old pig chaser with lymphocytic meningitis who was treated/released after 10 days. That patient became the first identified with Nipah virus.

    Changes in the agriculture in Asia left the bats that carry the disease with nowhere to go, and hence the “endemic you’ve never heard of,” Dr. Tambyah said.

    A pandemic has to be a novel virus (preferably from an animal), must cause harm to humans, and must be able to pass from humans to humans, and must, at its core, be able to cross species.

    Next: SARS

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