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Year : 2017  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 151-156

The forgotten plague: Psychiatric manifestations of ebola, zika, and emerging infectious diseases

1 Department of Emergency Medicine, Merit Health Wesley, Hattiesburg, MS, USA
2 Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, USA
3 Department of Research, Undergraduate Medical Education, Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine, New York, USA
4 Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Florida, Jacksonville, Florida, USA
5 Department of Emergency Medicine, Jackson Memorial Hospital, Miami, Florida, USA

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Veronica Tucci
Academic Chair and Program Director, Merit Health Wesley Emergency Medicine Residency Program, 5001 Hardy Street Hattiesburg, MS 39402
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jgid.jgid_66_17

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The media and public health generally focus on the biological and physical ramifications of epidemics. Mental health issues that coincide with emerging diseases and epidemics are rarely examined and sometimes, even eschewed due to cultural considerations. Psychiatric manifestations of various infectious diseases, especially with a focus on Ebola Virus disease (EVD) and Zika Virus, are discussed in this commentary to illustrate the continued need of care after the resolution of the actual illness. Various infectious diseases have associations with mental illness, such as an increased risk of obsessive-compulsive disorders and Tourette syndrome in children with Group B streptococcal infection. Current EVD literature does not demonstrate a strong association of mental illness symptoms or diseases but there is a necessity of care that extends beyond the illness. Patients and their families experience depression, anxiety, trauma, suicidal ideation, panic and other manifestations. Zika virus has been associated neuronal injury, genetic alteration that affects fetal development and detrimental maternal mental health symptoms are being documented. While funding calls from the international community are present, there are no specific epidemiological data or fiscal estimates solely for mental health during or after infectious diseases epidemics or disasters that support health care providers and strengthen policies and procedures for responding to such situations. Therefore, those on the frontlines of epidemics including emergency physicians, primary care providers and infectious disease specialists should serve communicate this need and advocate for sustained and increased funding for mental health programs to heighten public awareness regarding acute psychiatric events during infectious diseases outbreaks and offer treatment and support when necessary.

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2008 Journal of Global Infectious Diseases | Published by Wolters Kluwer - Medknow
Online since 10th December, 2008