The Sixth Form Lecture given by Dr. Oliver Restif (a researcher at the University of Cambridge, Department of Veterinary Medicine) on the transmission of infectious diseases was a delight.
One of the parts that generated my curiosity was when he talked to us about the process of data collection in order to find out how the Ebola outbreak in Guinea, West Africa, happened in 2013. I was amazed to discover that this infectious disease was probably transmitted by species of fruit bats to a child. With this in mind, besides the bad reputation that bats get for carrying many dangerous viruses, he raised our awareness regarding their importance in the ecosystem, helping reduce insect populations, pollinating plants and dispersing seeds, not to mention their significance in scientific and medical research, as they are the only flying mammal.
Another example which raised my attention was a case study in Hong Kong (2003), initially suspected as a strange pneumonia, but later called SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome). SARS was spread when a doctor who had treated some of the SARS cases in Guangdong attended a family gathering in Hong Kong. The infected person checked into a central hotel with a room on the ninth floor. That was the only the beginning of the outbreak, and was not expected to become so huge and complex. On the same floor as him, people from Vietnam, Taiwan, Shanghai and Toronto were infected in less than 72 hours. I learned that it all starts with the transmission from one species to another and that we never know how we get in contact with an infectious disease, which might cost our life. In view of the evidence he provided, Dr. Restif concluded his talk by giving us more to think about how we can actually prevent the spreading of infectious diseases.
Bia Boros (L6)