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Antimicrobial Resistance, Resistant Nosocomial Pathogens And Molecular Diagnosis Of Emerging Infectious Diseases

1950 words - 8 pages

Microorganisms form part of our normal flora, however they can become pathogens where their main role is to survive and multiply, often at the expense of the host. Pathogens cause infectious diseases depending on their virulence; this was first realised when Louis Pasteur discovered microbes contaminated wine, causing it to go sour. He wondered how microbes affected humans; however it was Robert Koch that linked the contamination of microbes to the cause of infectious diseases. Between them they discovered and identified many of the microbes that caused diseases. Bacteria, Fungi, Virus and protozoan are all agents that cause infectious diseases. Infectious diseases can be asymptomatic for a long period of time before symptoms are apparent, therefore might reach a lethal stage before their discovery and treatment.
Emerging and re-emerging pathogens pose a big problem for medicine, where emerging pathogens are new to the population with increasing infection incidence, while re-emerging pathogens have historically affected humans but continue to appear at new locations or in drug resistant forms. These ‘pathogens are more often those with broad host ranges with zoonosis: transmission of infectious disease from animals to humans, as the most likely source’ (Woolhouse and Gowtage-Sequeria, 2005:1842). There are various factors that contribute to the emergence and re-emergence of pathogens such as changes in land use or agricultural practices as this introduces new microorganism to the environment; for example the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria specie: an agent of Lyme diseases, is considered to be as a result of ‘reforestation around homes causing an increase in conditions favouring the tick vector and deer’. (Morse, 1995). Lyme disease is a bacterial infection spread to humans by infected ticks, ticks are very small and give painless bites, so might go unrealised. Once infected, B.burgdorferi affects the lymphatic system, and if left untreated damages the joints and nervous systems. Other factors include poor population health causing contaminated food sources or water supplies, and finally increase in international travel as these increases the emergence of pathogens to new environments.
‘Numerically, RNA viruses dominate 37% of all emerging and re-emerging pathogens’ (Woolhouse and Gowtage-Sequeria, 2005:1845). Human Immunodeficiency Virus: HIV, was first isolated in 1983 and is a rapidly emerging pathogen that has affected medicine, HIV is the most research aspect of medicine ever since it was discovered. HIV can progress to Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS); where the immune system cannot fight off opportunistic diseases that then become life-threatening, however not in all cases of HIV infection progresses to AIDS. HIV is transmitted in body fluids and the main way of transmission is by sexual contact; once infected, HIV: made up of eight genes, uses CD4 cells to make copies of itself destroying the cells in the process, leading to...

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