Diseases In American History

The world that more than six billion people inhabit is a very dangerous place to live. Genocides and wars seem to spring up once the world has promised that another would not be allowed in the future. Children in most of this nation’s big cities are advised not to walk at night in the streets of their own city and parents worry that their children will be safe. These are all major problems which plague the world that we live in today. These problems are made by people and as a result, there is the potential that people can stop the above mentioned impediments to our happiness.

What served as a more elusive and complicated force is the diseases which plagues this world and jeopardizes the lives and happiness of billions of people in this world. In the West, although not immune to diseases, we have been blessed with relative health against some of the diseases which have been all but eradicated in this part of the world. This is not the same in the underdeveloped countries where open sewage and a severe lack of proper health care seems only to breed these diseases and increased the death and destruction in these parts of the world in a most exponential fashion.

Some of these diseases are the plague, malaria, Filariasis and African Sleeping Sickness. All of these diseases, which are allowed to infect millions of people on a yearly basis, are encouraged to breed, grow and infect because of a severe lack of sanitary conditions. As a result, rodents, worms and mosquitoes are their main mode of transportation; creatures which are attracted to open sewage and poor sanitation services. As a result, the above mentioned diseases continue to infect and kill millions of people.

There has been progress made in the attempt to eradicate these diseases from the world but it has become painfully obvious that this will not happen overnight. These are the aspects which these four, very distinct diseases have with one another; they are most popular in the underdeveloped countries of the world, the disease is carried by rodents and mosquitoes and all are deadly. Malaria is one of the most devastating diseases in the world today.

Not only does the disease cause a great deal of pain and suffering for its victims, the global cost that the world absorbs as it tries to combat this most crippling disease, ranks up there with some of the most costly diseases in the world today. As it is the case with most such crippling diseases, the symptoms create a great deal of pain for its victim. “Some of these symptoms are vomiting, anemia and convulsions. Drastic changes in the temperature of the individual as well served as one of the major impediments to the comfort of the individual.

” Sudden coldness, followed by severe sweating which can last for hours, usually is associated and follows closely with the classic symptoms of malaria. The previously mentioned symptom of anemia is most devastating am9ong children who are some of the diseases most popular hosts. Malaria among adolescents, when at this crucial stage of brain development, wrecks havoc among the victim and severely retards and often times kills, the young child who has become infected. Malaria is caused by parasites of the genus Plasmodium. In humans, it is the genus falciparum which causes 80% of the infections among humans and over 90% of the deaths.

Malaria in human develops in two separate phases. When a mosquito is infected with the disease and pierces the skin of a human with their bite, the saliva of the mosquito enters the bloodstream and within as little as thirty minutes, the liver begins to fight the infectious disease; many times with crippling and deadly affects. “What adds to the danger of the disease is that within that half an hour of being introduced to the human, the infectious cells being to multiply and will continue to do so for a period of seven to sixteen days.

” Once introduced to the liver, they begin to rupture into the liver and infect the red blood cells. The exponential increase of infecting red blood cells will lead to a fever within the human. The parasite adds to its danger by being oblivious to the natural defense mechanisms which the body has in fighting off such foreign diseases within the body. The parasite’s life cycle is so short and while it resides within the liver, remains immune to the natural defenses that the body has in defending itself.

Also, the parasites are able to stick to the walls of the infected blood cells and thereby avoids being flushed out of the body through the spleen where they would be destroyed by the body. All of the above mentioned give rise to the dangerous aspects of the disease itself. The parasite acts like a thief in the night who seeks to change his disguise in order to prevent from getting caught. It stays one step ahead of the competition and therefore, ensures a long life in the body of a human being.

This unique feature within the parasite has resulted in the death of millions of individuals throughout the world. When faced with a problem on such a large and crippling scale, the obvious reaction is to wonder what defenses, if any, can be used to help combat those infected with such a disease. The first problem, aside from the illusiveness of the disease itself, is the fact that malaria is most popular in underdeveloped areas; areas where hospital care and proper sanitation are the exception rather than the rule.

Also, currently there is no vaccine which can effectively combat the disease in order to prevent the disease in the first place. However, through the successful efforts of first recognizing the cause and breeding grounds of malaria, the United States and Southern Europe, once popular areas for malaria, have become nearly eradicated from those parts of the world. “In 2003, there was only 1,099 reported cases of malaria in the United States; a country of nearly 300 million people at that time. ” Of those nearly eleven hundred cases, only eight resulted in death.

Another such dangerous disease which is very common in the underdeveloped countries of the world is Filariasis. In the United States, little is known about the disease as only a rare number of cases every occur in the United States. However, there is a staggering number of people who are at risk of being infected with the disease. “The World Health Organization estimates that every year, more than 1. 4 billion people are in danger of being infected with this disease. ” Filariasis is a disease which is caused by a parasitic worm and is transited by mosquitoes.

It was first recognized in 1866 by Otto Wucherer who presented the presence of the disease in the urine of his infected patients. The next few years would be an important time in the history of the discovery of the disease as one important research discovery occurred in the latter half of the 19th century. However, this did not result in a vaccination for the peoples of the underdeveloped portions of the world. Millions would be affected with the symptoms of the disease. Only now, they would be able to identify it; small comfort for those infected with the disease.

One of the most obvious symptoms of the disease is elephantiasis or the thickening of the skin and its underlining tissues. This usually occurs in the groin region of the patient or in any one of his limbs but which usually occurs in his feet. There are currently 120 million people who are affected with the disease. Many of them reside in Asia, Africa and Central and South America; all areas that are considered underdeveloped countries with poor sanitation and many areas, like Central and South America and especially areas of Asia, which are tropical environments and which breed mosquitoes.

Also, of the 120 million people who are currently infected, over forty million are infected with the disease to such a degree, that they are incapacitated, many times for the rest of their lives since treatment of the disease at such an advanced stage, especially when it is most popular in underdeveloped countries where treatment of the disease is more of the exception than the rule, there resides little hope in the rapid recovery of the individual from such a crippling disease; both mentally and physically for the patient.

This aids in a life of poverty, not only for the individual but in the society in which he is a part of. A person who cannot work, does not aid in the survival of the society and in the building up of the social and economic structure of his community. This decreases the taxes or other various forms of revenue which he would have otherwise been contributing to the society. Instead of contributing to society, the infected patient, unable to work or even to feed himself, now depends upon the help of a family member who now must spend their time caring for their loved one.

This placed upon the family, a mental, physical and economic burden that otherwise, would not have been present had such a dangerous disease been introduced to the society. Also, in these societies; many of which are underdeveloped to say the least, the hopes of bettering their conditions further decreases with time. The next question beyond attempting to identify how the disease is contracted, is the question of how can it be correctly and quickly diagnosed. The illusive nature of the disease makes diagnosis that much harder as its symptoms do not always follow the textbook examples which members of the medical community are trained to spot.

The most accurate ways in which to identify the presence of Filariasis is through a blood test. What is one of the most fascinating, unique and in the end tragic characteristic in trying to identify the disease is the fact that the parasites have been referred to as “nocturnal periodicity” because they resist appearance within conventional tests which are administered during the day. Blood tests must be taken at night when the microfilaria are most common in the peripheral blood.

Despite this unique illusiveness of the disease, blood tests are common and inexpensive compared to the other procedures which are often out of the reach of the communities in such high at risk areas of the world which coincidentally, are some of the poorest countries in the world as well. Once the disease has been identified, it now falls upon the health officials in the area where it has affected most of its people, to try to forever eradicate the disease from their community, and then from the rest of the world. The first step in this task is containment.

The levels of worm larvae which is present within the blood, must be reduced as much as possible so that there would then exist, such trace amounts that mosquitoes would find it nearly impossible to spread the disease to another human being. Mectizan is one of the most popular prescriptions which is used to combat the spread of the disease. Albendazole has also been used to contain the spread of the disease. All of the above mentioned first attack the disease within the blood; trying to decrease the high levels which are present within the blood stream.

Complete eradication cannot always be expected but when the drugs result in only trace elements being present in the blood stream, it served as a tremendous strip in the right direction for the eventual eradication of this most painful and crippling disease. Concerning all of the diseases aforementioned, the plague, commonly called the Bubonic Plague but which can take on several different forms, is the most popular because of its crippling effects upon Western Civilization.

The main difference with the plague is that when it was at its very worst, it was Western Civilization which was brought to its knees while most of the rest of the world was spared of its damaging effects. Either that or it exists much less recorded evidence of its existence. There was a major outbreak in China which “was referred to as the 3rd Pandemic in the 1850’s but when talking about the plague, the image of millions upon millions of Europeans during the Middle Ages with the people unable to protect themselves at all, is conjured up in the minds of those who hear the word plague.

” This is accurate but also erroneously fails to recognize the contemporary effects that the plague has on the world today. The plague is a disease which resides mostly in fleas and rodents. The infection of a human being occurs when a person is bitten by a flea that has been affected by an infected rodent. The bacteria blocks the stomach and gives the flea a strong sense of hunger which propels the flea to feast on the blood of humans at an elevated pace.

This only increases the spread of the disease and its deadly effects. Some of these effects are the constant bleeding of the skin and the internal organs which creates black patches on the skin. The pneumonic plague infects the lungs as there are various forms of the plague. The one thing which is common in all forms of the plague is its devastating effects and long history in the world today. Of all of the diseases aforementioned, as well as in the history of science, the plague has one of the longest histories.

The first recorded mention of the plague is seen in the Old Testament when I Samuel records the Philistines being struck by a plague in which there was open sores and severe swelling. This was recorded around 100 BC and began a long history of this most crippling disease. One of the most famous instances of the Plague was the plague which hit Europe in the 14th century. It was called the Black Death and historians believe that as many as 1/3 of the entire population of Europe was stricken with the disease and eventually died.

There was no defense against the disease and with Europe lacking in the essential sanitation services which are common place today, there was little defense that many people could have against the disease. What made the disease even more devastating was the fact that people could barely identify the disease but was unable to pinpoint its origins. Other plagues would hit Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries but with a lessening affect on the death rate of the people. It was not until the 19th century was rodents pinpointed as the main mode of transportation for the disease.

Also, with an increase in the sanitation of its sewers, the plague, at least in Europe, eventually subsided. However, not before millions of people died a most gruesome death from the crippling disease. The effect that the plague had on Europe at that time was more than just tallying up the numbers of dead, although that was most important. What was also devastating, and an effect which would not be recognized until centuries later, was the way in which the disease set back Western civilization centuries in the fields of science and math.

Although historians have largely dismissed the term “The Late Dark Ages’ there still was an absence of learning and scholarly endeavors which took place at this time compared to its following generations. This is especially true in comparison to the achievements that Arab nations, who at this time, was ahead of the West in many different categories of learning and internal improvements. Another most unique aspect of the disease is that fact that the disease was used as a form of a biological weapon. This is another aspect of the disease which sets it apart from all others previously mentioned.

World War II was a prime example of how a major worldly conflict could bring out new ways in which to create destruction among one’s fellow man. During the war, Japan, and to a lesser extent Germany, sought to breed masses of fleas in order to create and control the disease in order for it to be used on the Allied forces. Although largely unsuccessful, both the United States and the Soviet Union, in their recognition of the beginning of the Cold War, sought to develop means of weapon sing a version of the pneumonic plague in the event that a war with each other was to break out in the future.

This never did happen but with the fall of the Soviet Union in the early 1990’s, multiple viles of biological warfare, including strains of the plague, were lost; stolen or secretly misplaced in order to combat one’s own sinister motives for destruction. The last and usually overlooked disease which much of the West is oblivious to, both in the experience and knowledge of its effects is African Sleeping Sickness of African Trypanosomiasis. Like the aforementioned diseases, African Sleeping Sickness is caused by a parasite and is revisited by the bite of a fly, usually a tsetse fly.

There is an estimated 250,000 new cases each year by the World Health Organization believes that this is only a fraction of the actual cases which occur. The discrepancy is due mostly to simply underreporting the disease. The name of the disease is very accurate. However, it does not mean that its symptoms are to be only included in Africa. It is the most popular area of infection. Some of the countries hit the worst have been Uganda, Kenya, Zaire and Zimbabwe. Also, what makes the disease unique is the fact that the parasite which causes the illness can remain dormant in the body for weeks or even sometimes months before symptoms arise.

“Therefore, there an additional tens of millions of people who are estimated to be living with some of the more than 250 different strands which constitute the disease. ” It is also estimated by the World Health Organization that the disease is mainly contained on the continent of Africa with the vast majority of reported cases occurring in thirty six of the Sub Saharan countries in Africa. What is common with this disease as with all of the aforementioned is the way in which it is transferred from one human to another. The most common and effective mode of transportation is with the tsetse fly.

This is in connection with the mode of transportation of all of the aforementioned diseases in the fact that a member of the insect family is either directly or indirectly involved in the transformation of this most fatal disease. When a person becomes infected, they have bouts of fever and headache, painful joints as the parasites quickly multiply within the body. The second and most deadly phase comes when the brain is affected and the sleeping pattern of the infected individual is directly affected. This is what gives the disease its name but an altered sleeping pattern is not the only condition which is associated with the disease.

This only signals one of the last stages of the disease and death will usually follow. The disease, when left untreated, will cause death. If the disease is caught in time, there is still the risk of brain damage as the only available drugs which are used to combat the disease; often times cause irreversible nerve damage within the brain. Also, even with the successful treatment of the disease, unless caught in literally the first couple of days of the disease, the lifep of the individual is reduced by nine to fourteen years on average.

It is a most harmful disease which the World Health Organization is calling for a heightened recognition and treatment for the areas of Africa which are most affected by the disease. Malaria, African Sleeping sickness, the plague and Filariasis all have one thing in common: they all cause death. It is not comforting to the people who have dedicated their lives to the eradication of the disease that each has different symptoms which will lead the patient to the same outcome. The goal is to help make these diseases a thing of the past.

One of the most obvious characteristic which all of these diseases have in common is the mode of transportation that the parasites rely upon in order to spread from one individual to another on a large scale. Malaria directly depends upon mosquitoes and therefore, tropical areas are breeding grounds for the disease. Therefore, much of South America as well as Asian countries with high ran fall totals, are in a heightened risk of infection. Malaria, of all the aforementioned diseases, is the one which has killed the most people.

It is hard to know exactly how many people the plague has killed. Its major outbreak during the middle of the 14th century, does not give an accurate estimate of the number of people that it has killed. Malaria has killed at least 300 million people in its long and disastrous history. Also, more than a million new cases arise every year with many dying. Malaria has been and continued to be, one of the most dangerous and deadly diseases in the world today. Therefore, it behooves the entire world to stay educated as to the dangers of the disease and to prevent oneself from the disease.

The plague is one of the most famous of all of the diseases. The danger of contracting the plague during Medieval Europe was a real fear for the people. At that time, only the best doctors were occasionally able to identify the disease itself. Being able to treat the individual or even prevent the further spreading of the disease was not yet an option,. Never before in human history had mankind been presented with a disease which left the medical as well as the general populations so helpless and in the dark as to how to treat the disease.

It was eventually discovered that the disease was spread through the contamination of rodents by mosquitoes. The lack of proper sewage systems and an all around lack of cleanliness and knowledge, helped to increase the tally of the numbers of dead which can be contributed to the black death of the 14th century. Filariasis is one of the most unique diseases that has been mentioned. On the surface, the disease seems to have only an outward affect upon its victim with the enlargement of various of a person’s body. This alone is still a reason to b vigilant.

However, the disease will often time, if left untreated, to death of the victim. Therefore, not only does the victim infected with a disease which manes and disfigures, it also will lead to death. The disease is a direct attack on the blood as the parasite acts as though it has a mind of its own as it evades the various natural defenses of the body; always staying one step ahead and responding the body’s attempt to kill the disease. The disease is introduced into the body through an insect bite. The same can be said of African Sleeping Sickness.

What is unique about this disease is the relative ignorance that the rest of the world has for the disease. The World Health Organization is staying as up to date as it possibly can but with a severe case of underreporting, it is hard for such organizations to keep tabs and chart the progress of the disease as well as the success of treatments which have been designed to stop the disease. The fact that the disease can stay dormant in the body for a sustained amount of time also adds to the evasiveness of the disease and therefore its treatment and eradication for the future.

Those who live in the United States of America and throughout the West are very fortunate people as the number of cases which these four diseases are seen in individuals are very low. Usually, when any of these diseases are introduced into the country, it is from an infected person who came from one of the various trouble spots of the world. A lack of sanitation and medical care as well as environments which breed these various types of mosquitoes all contribute to the heightened risk which people living in these areas have to face on a daily basis.

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