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Food Poisoning or Stomach Virus? The Telltale Symptoms to Look For

The terms food poisoning, stomach bug, stomach flu, and stomach virus are often used interchangeably, but they’re not the same. A stomach bug or stomach flu is a sickness caused by a virus (the medical term for this condition is viral gastroenteritis). The virus causes an inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract (stomach and intestines). On the other hand, food poisoning occurs after eating contaminated food or spoiled food, caused by foodborne germs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), food poisoning affects some 48 million Americans each year, and it is more common than viral illnesses. 

Please continue reading to learn more about the telltale signs that can help you determine whether you’re dealing with a viral infection or food poisoning.

You should suspect food poisoning if the food looks, tastes, or smells bad. Germs that cause food spoilage often cause food to become slimy or mushy in appearance, develop unpleasant odors, and taste sour or “off.

How do you tell if you have a stomach bug or something else?

Food poisoning and viral gastroenteritis cause many of the same symptoms. Common food poisoning symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, and diarrhea are also symptoms of stomach flu. So, the truth is that you may never know if you have a stomach virus or food poisoning. However, some clues can help you figure it out (more about this later). 

What are the obvious symptoms of having food poisoning?

The most common food poisoning symptoms include abdominal pain or cramping, diarrhea, and vomiting. Other symptoms of food poisoning can include thirst, headache, low-grade fever, chills, sweating, tiredness, and muscle aches. People with severe symptoms may notice bloody stools or vomit, severe abdominal cramps, and even fainting or loss of consciousness.

What are the symptoms of a stomach bug?

Viral gastroenteritis or stomach bug symptoms are similar symptoms to food poisoning. The symptoms typically include nausea, vomiting, watery diarrhea, and stomach cramps. You can also develop symptoms such as thirst, dry mouth, lightheadedness, tiredness, fever, muscle aches, joint pain, and urinating less than usual.

What is the difference between food poisoning and stomach bug?

Here are some of the critical differences between stomach flu and food poisoning.



  • Viral gastroenteritis is caused by viruses such as norovirus, rotavirus, and other viruses.
  • Food poisoning is caused by foodborne germs, including viruses, bacteria, and parasites. Some of the most common germs that cause foodborne illnesses in the U.S. are norovirus, salmonella, and Staphylococcus aureus (Staph).


  • Symptoms of stomach flu develop 24-48 hours after exposure to the virus.
  • Symptoms of food poisoning develop within a few hours (2-6 hours after eating contaminated food).


  • Doctors usually diagnose a stomach virus based on your symptoms. There is a rapid stool test that can detect norovirus and rotavirus, but it is not available at most health clinics.
  • Food poisoning is diagnosed based on your history and symptoms. A stool test can help to identify bacterial or parasitic infections.


  • You can treat a stomach bug at home by replacing fluids and electrolytes to prevent dehydration and eating bland foods that are easy to digest (a BRAT diet is recommended – bananas, applesauce, rice, and toast). Some over-the-counter medicines can help to relieve your symptoms.
  • Treatment for food poisoning also consists of replacing fluids and electrolytes to stay hydrated and eating easy-to-digest foods. In severe cases, doctors may prescribe antibiotics for certain types of food poisoning. 


  • Viral gastroenteritis is highly contagious, and it spreads via the vomit or feces of an infected person through personal contact. For example, if someone is sick and has not washed their hands thoroughly, they might have the virus on their hands and can transmit it to you when you shake hands. It can also spread through contaminated food and drink or contaminated objects.
  • Food poisoning occurs when you eat contaminated food or drink contaminated water or beverages.


  • You can prevent viral gastroenteritis by washing your hands thoroughly if you’re sick or have been around someone who is sick. There is a vaccine available against rotavirus. 
  • You can prevent food poisoning by keeping your food preparation equipment and surfaces clean, refrigerating perishable foods, eating fully cooked meats and eggs, and discarding foods that appear to be spoiled.

How do I know if it’s stomach flu or food poisoning?

Both conditions cause gastrointestinal distress. However, if you have a fever, headache, body aches, and projectile vomiting, you may have a stomach bug or viral gastroenteritis. If you have bloody diarrhea, it could be food poisoning.

The circumstances surrounding your illness can offer clues. If you develop symptoms within a few hours of eating food that may have been spoiled or contaminated, you likely have food poisoning. 

If a family member or friend ate the same food and became sick, that’s another clue that points to food poisoning.

If you have eaten foods that are easily contaminated or spoiled, such as salad greens, undercooked eggs or meat, seafood, raw milk, or dairy products just before your symptoms worsen, it could be food poisoning. 

On the other hand, if you have been around someone who has a similar illness, it could be viral gastroenteritis. For example, if your child is sick and there’s a stomach bug going around your child’s school.

When to see a doctor?

Most people with a food-borne illness get better on their own in 2-5 days without medical treatment. You should see a doctor if:

  • You have a high fever above 104F (40C).
  • You’re not able to keep liquids down for more than 24 hours.
  • You’ve been vomiting for more than 2 days.
  • You have blood in your vomit or bowel movements.
  • You have severe abdominal cramping or abdominal pain.
  • Your symptoms have been going on for more than 7-10 days.
  • You have signs of dehydration such as dry mouth, excessive thirst, dark yellow urine, less frequent urination, lightheadedness or dizziness, and severe weakness.

Keep in mind that while most forms of food poisoning aren’t serious, a type of food poisoning called botulism, which is caused by a bacterium called Clostridium botulinum, can be fatal. This bacterium produces toxins that affect the nervous system. Seek medical attention immediately if you have botulism symptoms such as blurred vision, double vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, or other neuromuscular symptoms.


  1. https://www.ucihealth.org/blog/2016/01/stomach-flu-or-food-poisoning
  2. https://ask. usda.gov/s/article/What-are-the-signs-of-food-spoilage#
  3. https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/foodborne-germs.html
  4. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/viral-gastroenteritis/symptoms-causes

Viral gastroenteritis (stomach flu) – Symptoms & causes


Viral gastroenteritis is an intestinal infection that includes signs and symptoms such as watery diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea or vomiting, and sometimes fever.

The most common way to develop viral gastroenteritis — often called stomach flu — is through contact with an infected person or by consuming contaminated food or water. If you’re otherwise healthy, you’ll likely recover without complications. But for infants, older adults and people with compromised immune systems, viral gastroenteritis can be deadly.

There’s no effective treatment for viral gastroenteritis, so prevention is key. Avoid food and water that may be contaminated and wash your hands thoroughly and often.

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Although it’s commonly called stomach flu, gastroenteritis isn’t the same as influenza. The flu (influenza) affects only your respiratory system — your nose, throat and lungs. Gastroenteritis, on the other hand, attacks your intestines, causing signs and symptoms such as:

  • Watery, usually nonbloody diarrhea — bloody diarrhea usually means you have a different, more severe infection
  • Nausea, vomiting or both
  • Stomach cramps and pain
  • Occasional muscle aches or headache
  • Low-grade fever

Depending on the cause, viral gastroenteritis symptoms may appear within 1-3 days after you’re infected and can range from mild to severe. Symptoms usually last just a day or two, but occasionally they may last up to 14 days.

Because the symptoms are similar, it’s easy to confuse viral diarrhea with diarrhea caused by bacteria, such as Clostridioides difficile, salmonella and Escherichia coli, or parasites, such as giardia.

Viral gastroenteritis

The stomach, small intestine and large intestine (colon) are part of your digestive tract, which processes the foods you eat. Viral gastroenteritis is an inflammation of these organs caused by a virus.

When to see a doctor

If you’re an adult, call your health care provider if:

  • You’re not able to keep liquids down for 24 hours
  • You’ve been vomiting or having diarrhea for more than two days
  • You’re vomiting blood
  • You’re dehydrated — signs of dehydration include excessive thirst, dry mouth, deep yellow urine or little or no urine, and severe weakness, dizziness or lightheadedness
  • You notice blood in your bowel movements
  • You have severe stomach pain
  • You have a fever above 104 F (40 C)

For infants and children

See your child’s health care provider right away if your child:

  • Has a fever of 102 F (38. 9 C) or higher
  • Seems tired or very irritable
  • Is in a lot of discomfort or pain
  • Has bloody diarrhea
  • Seems dehydrated — watch for signs of dehydration in sick infants and children by comparing how much they drink and urinate with how much is normal for them, and watching for signs such as a dry mouth, thirst and crying without tears

If you have an infant, remember that while spitting up may be an everyday occurrence for your baby, vomiting is not. Babies vomit for a variety of reasons, many of which may require medical attention.

Call your baby’s doctor right away if your baby:

  • Has vomiting that is frequent
  • Hasn’t had a wet diaper in six hours
  • Has bloody stools or severe diarrhea
  • Has a sunken soft spot (fontanel) on the top of his or her head
  • Has a dry mouth or cries without tears
  • Is unusually sleepy, drowsy or unresponsive


You’re most likely to get viral gastroenteritis when you eat or drink contaminated food or water. You may also be likely to get gastroenteritis if you share utensils, towels or food with someone who has one of the viruses that cause the condition.

Many viruses can cause gastroenteritis, including:

  • Noroviruses. Both children and adults are affected by noroviruses, the most common cause of foodborne illness worldwide. Norovirus infection can sweep through families and communities. It’s especially likely to spread among people in confined spaces.

    In most cases, you pick up the virus from contaminated food or water. But it can also spread between people who are in close contact or who share food. You can also get the virus by touching a surface that’s been contaminated with norovirus and then touching your mouth.

  • Rotavirus. Worldwide, this is the most common cause of viral gastroenteritis in children, who are usually infected when they put their fingers or other objects contaminated with the virus into their mouths. It can also spread through contaminated food. The infection is most severe in infants and young children.

    Adults infected with rotavirus may not have symptoms, but can still spread the illness. This is of particular concern in institutional settings such as nursing homes because adults with the virus unknowingly can pass the virus to others. A vaccine against viral gastroenteritis is available in some countries, including the United States, and appears to be effective in preventing the infection.

Some shellfish, especially raw or undercooked oysters, also can make you sick. Contaminated drinking water is a cause of viral diarrhea. But in many cases the virus is passed when someone with a virus handles food you eat without washing his or her hands after using the toilet.

Risk factors

Gastroenteritis occurs all over the world and can affect people of all ages.

People who may be more susceptible to gastroenteritis include:

  • Young children. Children in child care centers or elementary schools may be especially vulnerable because it takes time for a child’s immune system to mature.
  • Older adults. Adult immune systems tend to become less efficient later in life. Older adults in nursing homes are vulnerable because their immune systems weaken. They also live in close contact with others who may pass along germs.
  • Schoolchildren or dormitory residents. Anywhere that groups of people come together in close quarters can be an environment for an intestinal infection to get passed.
  • Anyone with a weakened immune system. If your resistance to infection is low — for instance, if your immune system is compromised by HIV/AIDS, chemotherapy or another medical condition — you may be especially at risk.

Each gastrointestinal virus has a season when it’s most active. If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, for instance, you’re more likely to have rotavirus or norovirus infections in the winter and spring.


The main complication of viral gastroenteritis is dehydration — a severe loss of water and essential salts and minerals. If you’re healthy and drink enough to replace fluids you lose from vomiting and diarrhea, dehydration shouldn’t be a problem.

Infants, older adults and people with weakened immune systems may become severely dehydrated when they lose more fluids than they can replace. Hospitalization might be needed so that lost fluids can be replaced through an IV in their arms. Dehydration can rarely lead to death.


The best way to prevent the spread of intestinal infections is to follow these precautions:

  • Get your child vaccinated. A vaccine against gastroenteritis caused by the rotavirus is available in some countries, including the United States. Given to children in the first year of life, the vaccine appears to be effective in preventing severe symptoms of this illness.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly. And make sure your children do, too. If your children are older, teach them to wash their hands, especially after using the toilet.

    Wash your hands after changing diapers and before preparing or eating food, too. It’s best to use warm water and soap and to rub hands well for at least 20 seconds. Wash around cuticles, beneath fingernails and in the creases of the hands. Then rinse thoroughly. Carry sanitizing wipes and hand sanitizer for times when soap and water aren’t available.

  • Use separate personal items around your home. Avoid sharing eating utensils, drinking glasses and plates. Use separate towels in the bathroom.
  • Prepare food safely. Wash all your fruits and vegetables before eating them. Clean kitchen surfaces before preparing food on them. Avoid preparing food if you’re sick.
  • Keep your distance. Avoid close contact with anyone who has the virus, if possible.
  • Disinfect hard surfaces. If someone in your home has viral gastroenteritis, disinfect hard surfaces, such as counters, faucets and doorknobs, with a mixture of 5-25 tablespoons (73 to 369 milliliters) of household bleach to 1 gallon (3. 8 liters) of water.
  • Avoid touching laundry that may have been exposed to a virus. If someone in your home has viral gastroenteritis, wear gloves while touching laundry. Wash clothing and bedding in hot water and dry them on the hottest setting. Wash your hands well after touching laundry.
  • Check out your child care center. Make sure the center has separate rooms for changing diapers and preparing or serving food. The room with the diaper-changing table should have a sink as well as a sanitary way to dispose of diapers.

Take precautions when traveling

When you’re traveling in other countries, you can become sick from contaminated food or water. You may be able to reduce your risk by following these tips:

  • Drink only well-sealed bottled or carbonated water.
  • Avoid ice cubes because they may be made from contaminated water.
  • Use bottled water to brush your teeth.
  • Avoid raw food — including peeled fruits, raw vegetables and salads — that has been touched by human hands.
  • Avoid undercooked meat and fish.

More Information

Enteroviral infection


Enterovirus infection is a multiple group of acute infectious diseases that can affect children and adults when infected with viruses of the Enterovirus genus. The insidiousness of the causative agents of enterovirus infection is that they can cause various forms of clinical manifestations, from mild malaise to serious damage to the central nervous system. With the development of an enterovirus infection, the symptoms are characterized by a feverish state and a wide variety of other signs caused by damage to the respiratory system, gastrointestinal tract, kidneys, central nervous system and other organs.

How the infection spreads:

The main route of transmission of enterovirus infection is fecal-oral .
Household contact , through household items, contaminated hands, if personal hygiene is not observed.
Airborne if the pathogen multiplies in the respiratory tract, when coughing, sneezing.
Waterway – infection can occur when vegetables and fruits are watered with contaminated sewage, as well as when swimming in open contaminated water bodies, according to some reports, even water in coolers is a source of enterovirus infection.
If a pregnant woman is infected with an enterovirus infection, a vertical route of the pathogen’s transmission to the child is also possible.

Enterovirus infection is characterized by summer-autumn seasonality, a person has a very high natural susceptibility, and after the illness, type-specific immunity is maintained for several years.
The incubation period of any enteroviral infections is no more than 2-7 days.

All diseases that can be caused by enteroviruses according to the severity of the inflammatory process can be conditionally divided into 2 groups:0017 Serious diseases
These include acute paralysis, hepatitis, serous meningitis in children and adults, pericarditis, myocarditis, neonatal septic-like diseases, any chronic infections in HIV-infected people (HIV infection: symptoms, stages).
Less severe diseases
Conjunctivitis, three-day fever without rash or with rash, herpangina, vesicular pharyngitis, pleurodynia, uveitis, gastroenteritis. Enterovirus D68 can occur with severe cough and bronchopulmonary obstruction.


Signs of SARS . Children develop perspiration, sore throat, sometimes runny nose, cough, fever. The temperature is high at the first stages, then decreases and after 2-3 days it jumps sharply again. This phenomenon is called “enterovirus fever”. It lasts, as a rule, 3 days, the child will feel unwell. During this period, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea sometimes appear, which can stop abruptly.

Rash . This manifestation of the disease is called “exanthema”. A rash appears on the second day after the temperature rises. As a rule, it is localized on the neck, legs, arms, face, back, chest. Outwardly, it looks like small red dots on the skin, identical to the manifestation of measles. Sometimes the rash is localized in the mouth, throat, looks like bubbles filled with liquid, which then turn into sores.

Muscle pain . Enterovirus infection in some cases affects muscle tissue. It is localized more often in the chest, abdomen, much less often in the back, arms, legs. Deterioration of the condition is manifested by movement, the pain has a paroxysmal character. The duration can be several minutes and up to half an hour. If you do not start timely therapy, muscle pain will become chronic.

Diarrhea, vomiting. Often manifested in children under 2 years of age when the body is affected by an enterovirus infection. Sometimes the symptom is accompanied by bloating, pain. Diarrhea can last for several days. The main task of parents during this period is to restore fluid deficiency in time.

Additional symptoms of enterovirus infection:
drowsiness, lethargy;
abdominal pain;
loss of appetite;
swelling of the extremities;
general malaise;
conjunctivitis, redness of the eyes, lacrimation;
enlargement of the lymph nodes.

In healthy adults with strong immunity, enterovirus infection cannot develop to severe pathological processes, and most often it is asymptomatic, which cannot be said about small children, especially newborns and adults weakened by other diseases, such as HIV infection, cancer, tuberculosis.

To prevent the disease of enterovirus infection, it is necessary to observe preventive measures:

Use guaranteed safe water and drinks (boiled water and drinks in factory packaging).
Eat foods that have been heat treated.
Thoroughly wash fruits and vegetables with safe water and then rinse with boiling water.
When swimming in ponds and pools, do not allow water to enter the oral cavity.
Follow the basic rules of personal hygiene.
You should avoid visiting mass events, places with a large number of people (public transport, cinemas, etc.).
Wet cleaning of residential premises is recommended at least 2 times a day, ventilation of premises.

Under no circumstances should a child visit an organized children’s group (school, preschool institutions) with any manifestations of the disease. At the first signs of illness, you should immediately seek medical help, do not self-medicate!

The most dangerous infections in human history

January 24, 2020, 15:46

TASS-DOSIER. As of January 24, 2020, the number of confirmed cases of pneumonia in China caused by a new type of 2019-nCoV coronavirus has reached 900. Cases of infection have also been recorded in Vietnam, Thailand, the Republic of Korea, the United States, Singapore and Japan.

Information on the most dangerous infectious diseases is in the TASS material.


Plague (or plague) is an infectious disease caused by the plague bacterium (lat. Yersinia Pestis; discovered in 1894), found on small animals (rodents) and on their parasites – fleas. It is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected flea, through direct contact with infected materials, or through airborne droplets from an infected person. The incubation period is 3-7 days, then typical flu symptoms develop: sudden fever, chills, headache and body aches, as well as weakness, nausea and vomiting. There are three forms of plague. In bubonic – the most common form – the plague bacillus affects the lymphatic system. As a result, the lymph node becomes hard, a bubo appears on the body. In the late stage of the disease, inflamed lymph nodes turn into festering wounds. In the septic form, the infection penetrates through cracks in the skin and immediately enters the bloodstream. Pneumonic – the most severe and least common form of plague – is accompanied by damage to the respiratory system. If left untreated, the disease can lead to severe complications and death (mortality rate – 30%-60%). In the fight against plague, antibiotic treatment is effective, as well as maintenance therapy. If untreated, the disease can lead to death in a short time.

The first information about the disease with similar symptoms dates back to the times of Ancient Rome. However, it is believed that it was also widespread in an earlier period in the territory of modern Libya, Syria and Egypt. Plague has caused widespread pandemics in the past. In the XIV century. One form of the plague, better known as the Black Death, is said to have claimed the lives of 50 million people. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2010-2015, 3,248 cases of plague of various forms were registered, 584 people died from the disease.


Smallpox is caused by the Variola virus. It is transmitted by airborne droplets, as well as through objects with which the infected person has come into contact. The incubation period is 7-17 days. The disease begins with a sharp increase in temperature, headache, often nausea and vomiting. After 2-3 days, the temperature subsides, a nodular-bubbly rash appears on the skin and mucous membranes, leaving behind scars (pockmarks). In 30% of cases, a lethal outcome is observed, with rare forms (confluent, hemorrhagic, purple), mortality reaches 70% and above.

Until recently, it was believed that smallpox appeared in Africa or Asia in the 4th millennium BC. e. However, today scientists suggest that the human virus is close to the camelpox virus and passed to humans in the Middle East region at the beginning of our era. The smallpox epidemic first swept through China in the 4th century, in the 6th century. hit Korea. In the 8th century the disease was brought to Europe (in the 17th-18th centuries, epidemics covered almost the entire population of Europe, more than 1.5 million people died from this disease every year; in Russia, this disease reached its highest prevalence in the 18th century). By the beginning of the XVI century. the first mention of smallpox in America, where the Spanish conquerors could bring it. At the end of the XVIII century. smallpox was introduced to Australia.

The disease was brought under control thanks to the WHO global vaccination program implemented since the second half of the 1960s. The last human case of smallpox was recorded on October 26, 1977 in Somalia. Officially, victory over the disease was announced in 1980. Only two laboratories have the right to store the virus and conduct research – the Russian State Scientific Center for Virology and Biotechnology “Vector” (the village of Koltsovo, Novosibirsk Region) and the American Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Atlanta, Georgia).


Cholera is an acute intestinal infection caused by bacteria of the Vibrio cholerae species, characterized by damage to the gastrointestinal tract, impaired water-salt metabolism and dehydration. It spreads through contaminated water and food, and is closely associated with poor sanitation and lack of clean drinking water. Cholera has been known since ancient times until the middle of the 20th century. remained one of the most dangerous epidemic diseases. In the 19th century cholera has spread from its original reservoir in the Ganges Delta in India to the rest of the world. Six consecutive pandemics have claimed the lives of several million people around the world. The seventh epidemic began at 1961 in South Asia and spread in 1971 to Africa, in 1991 to America. Currently, individual cases and outbreaks of the disease occur in developing and poor countries, especially during massive natural disasters. So, after the devastating earthquake in Haiti in January 2010, the number of victims of a cholera outbreak exceeded 7.5 thousand. In January 2011, cholera from Haiti was transferred to Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Spain, the USA and Mexico, in 2012 – to Cuba.

According to WHO, between 3 million and 5 million cases of cholera occur annually, of which more than 100,000 are fatal. Two types of vaccines are used to prevent this disease. They provide sustained protection of over 50% for two years.

“Swine flu”

“Swine flu” (eng. Swine Influenza) is the code name for a human viral infectious disease that initially spread among domestic pigs (in 2009 in Mexico and the USA). The virus is transmitted by household and airborne droplets and causes symptoms typical of influenza and SARS – cough, headache, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, runny nose. The most dangerous complications, in the first place – pneumonia. “Swine flu” refers to the most common influenza type A and includes subtypes h2N1 (most common), h2N2, h4N1, h4N2 and h3N3. The most reliable way to avoid contracting “swine flu” is a seasonal vaccination.

In 1957-1958, the h3N2 virus led to a pandemic, then from 20% to 50% of the world’s population fell ill and died from 1 million to 4 million people, while most often the flu affected children. Another pathogen, the h4N2 virus, caused an epidemic in 1968-1969, the first cases of which were recorded in Hong Kong. The disease spread all over the world and claimed the lives of up to 4 million people. A significant outbreak of the h2N1 virus occurred in 2009-2010. According to WHO, then the pandemic covered 30% of the world’s population in 214 countries, more than 18 thousand people died.

It is believed that one of the types of “swine flu” was the so-called. Spanish flu – an epidemic of 1918-1919 that spread throughout the world from Spain. Then more than 500 million people fell ill, from 20 million to 50 million died. This is the most massive pandemic in terms of the number of deaths in human history.


Ebola virus disease (EVD) affects humans and some animal species. The virus was first recorded in 1976 in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo, DR Congo), in a village on the banks of the Ebola River, in connection with which it received the name. It is believed that the carriers of the virus were originally bats. It is transmitted to humans from wild animals and spreads from person to person through close contact through mucous membranes or breaks in the skin. The disease is manifested by fever, jaundice, hemorrhagic syndrome and renal failure. The incubation period varies from 2 to 21 days. During disease outbreaks, mortality reaches 90%. Experts identify five varieties of the virus: Bundibugyo (BDBV), Zaire (EBOV), Sudan (SUDV), Thai Forest (TAFV), Reston (RESTV; affects only animals).

Fever outbreaks were reported in DR Congo in 1976, 1995 and 2007, in Sudan in 1976, in Uganda in 2000 and in the Republic of the Congo in 2003. The largest number of deaths was claimed by the epidemic in 2013-2016, which swept Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. Cases have also been reported in Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Spain, the UK, Italy and the US. According to WHO, since the beginning of this epidemic, about 30 thousand people have become infected, 11.3 thousand people have died. In 2018-2019years, outbreaks of the epidemic took place intermittently in the DR Congo (3.4 thousand cases, 2.3 thousand deaths).


Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a disease that develops when infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The virus attacks the immune system and weakens the body’s defenses against infection and disease. HIV can be transmitted through sexual contact, contaminated blood transfusions, contaminated needles or sharp instruments, and from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding. AIDS can develop 2-15 years after infection. There is no cure for HIV infection. However, with antiretroviral treatment, the virus can be controlled, transmission can be prevented, and damage to the body reduced.

Some scientists believe that HIV passed from monkeys to humans as early as the 1920s. The first victim of this disease, presumably, was a man who died in the Congo in 1959 (medics came to this conclusion after analyzing his medical history later). For the first time, the symptoms of the disease characteristic of HIV infection were described in June 1981 in the United States. In 1983, researchers in the United States and France described a virus that could cause HIV/AIDS.

According to the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, in 2018 there were about 37.9million HIV-infected, of which 1.7 million are children under the age of 15. The most unfavorable region is the countries of Eastern and Southern Africa, where about 20.6 million infected people live. The number of new HIV infections decreased by 40% compared to 1997, when this figure reached its peak value, from 2. 9 million to 1.7 million. In Russia, from 1987, when the first case of the disease was detected, to June 30, 2019, 1.38 million HIV infections were registered among citizens of the Russian Federation, of which 335,867 people died.


Coronaviruses are varieties of viruses belonging to the subfamily Coronavirinae of the family Coronaviridae (order Nidovirales). First discovered in the 1960s, they cause gastrointestinal and respiratory infections in both humans and animals. There are 39 coronaviruses, including Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome.

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), also known as SARS, is an acute infectious respiratory disease that is characterized by transient development and a mortality rate of about 10%. The incubation period (the interval between infection and the onset of symptoms) is usually up to 10 days. The disease begins with fever (more than 38 degrees Celsius), fever, chills, headache and muscle pain. After 3-7 days, the phase of deterioration of the respiratory system begins. The disease is spread by airborne droplets and household contact.

The first outbreak of SARS was reported in November 2002 in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong. Subsequently, numerous cases of the disease were recorded in China, Vietnam, New Zealand, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines. In addition to Asian countries, SARS has been reported in North America and Europe. In Russia, only one case of the disease was recorded (the patient was cured). According to WHO, during the epidemic in 2002-2003, the total number of cases in 37 countries reached 8,437 people, of whom more than 800 died.

Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) was identified in 2012 in Saudi Arabia, from where it spread to other countries in the Middle East. According to one version of the WHO, the carriers of the virus were camels. Symptoms of MERS are similar to the common flu: fever, cough, difficulty breathing, general malaise, diarrhea.