Preventing infectious diseases

February 13, 2017

All infections have rules, if all rules are known; it will lead us to prevention, treatment and cure. To deal with the biology in which infection diseases work, three topics need to be addressed: the microorganism (when causes disease it is called pathogen), the host and the environment which is the main driving factor of infection.

There are several ways microbial agents can spread, being those: Human to Human (“communicable diseases”), animal to Human, Insect to Human (vector born diseases) and environment to Human (nosocomial). The ones we worry the most are the Human to Human diseases since they can spread and become epidemics (many people suffer from the same disease) and pandemic (the disease is globally spread). Animal to Human diseases are spread through contact of contaminated animals with the Humans and transmit their pathogen to the human hence causing disease. Insect to Human diseases are for instance, malaria and dengue. These kinds of diseases are spread through a vector such as mosquitos. Environment to human diseases are diseases which are acquired by contact of the Humans with the microorganisms present in the environment.

There are three major components which characterize the way how a disease is spread. First of all, the ease that the microbe spreads to a new host, in other words how many particles it would take to infect a new host – the efficiency of the microbe. Second, the duration of the infection which is very important since infections that kill the host fast cannot spread, whereas infections that conceal their symptoms can remain contagious for long periods of time and sustain huge epidemics. Finally, the number of people that have been exposed in order to be considered an epidemic.

After understanding the rules, we can focus on prevention, treatment and cure. With treatments becoming available and allowing to cure many diseases, prevention from spreading is necessary. It is very important that we have drugs not only to treat the diseases but also to prevent its spreading. This way, when the prevention is successfully achieved we can say that an era where the diseases are exterminated has arrived (as it happened with smallpox that was eradicated in the 80´ s).

There are many new infections coming to light every year, among those the antibiotic resistance bacteria, which nowadays is one of the major concerns for mankind. The understanding on how these infections work is imperative, so it would be possible not only to treat the disease but also to work on prevention, and maybe one day it would be possible to eradicate them as well.