Polio, avian influenza, Chikungunya, cholera and some unnamed recent diseases top the list of five diseases that threaten the global health today. According Scott Dowell, MD, Division of Global Disease Detection and Emergency Response at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention the current outbreaks of the mentioned diseases are only a testimonial to the fact that many challenges remain to be tackled.

Speaking at the 48th Annual Meeting for Infectious Diseases Society of America, Scott said the recent cases of Polio in Tajikistan came as a concern. The disease so far found only in south Asia and central and West Africa. While the number of cases and number of countries in which polio can be found are decreasing, the battle is far from over, he added.

Two cases of avian influenza (H5N1) have been reported from Indonesia recently even as Vietnam and Egypt struggle to fight the infection. It remains as one of the deadliest threats in the world with an approximately 60% mortality rate. What’s worse is that despite the re-assortment of H5N1 with seasonal influenza or influenza A (H1N1) may still lead to infections, which are challenging for even doctors to comprehend and cure.

Similarly, outbreak of Chikungunya virus in France and China is another concern. Dowell noted that although Chikungunya virus is yet to be found in North America, its career the Aedes albopticus mosquitoes are becoming much more prevalent, particularly in the south and is only a matter of time before these mosquitoes begin transmitting the virus.

A confirmed case of cholera has also been reported from Haiti on Oct. 22, a first time in the last 50 years, said Dowell.

There are other diseases which the CDC terms as enigmatic outbreaks. Dowell informed an unexplained Japanese encephalitis outbreak in India; an undiagnosed liver disease in Ethiopia; several unexplained cases of lead poisoning in Nigeria; and the unexplained incidence of Nodding Disease in Africa are some of the complex diseases that are seriously being studied at the CDC.