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Common Features Of Some Of The World's Deadliest Diseases

2469 words - 10 pages

There are a number of diseases that are considered significant public health hazards; they include cholera, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and influenza, as well as a number of neglected tropical diseases (NTD). These diseases have caused and continue to cause countless deaths globally. To better understand why these diseases are of such significant we must consider some common features, including both the scientific biological factors and nonbiological factors that affect the continuance of some of the world’s deadliest diseases.

Diseases: Causes and Effects

Diseases are all causes by the invasion of a host by a pathogen. The invasion of the host is an infection that can result in illness and disease. Disease, according to the Nation Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) "refers to conditions that impair normal tissue function" (NIH, 2013). Diseases are caused by infections that result from microorganisms called pathogens entering a host where they grow causing impairment to normal tissue functions (NIH, 2013). Several different types of pathogens (or infectious agents) can cause infection and disease. They include bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoa, helminthes (all forms of microorganisms) and prions (proteins) (NIH, 2013 and Kaufman, 2009). Most infectious agents are microorganisms, with the exception of prions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Prions are "abnormal, pathogenic agents that are transmissible and are able to induce abnormal folding of specific normal cellular proteins called prion proteins that are found most abundantly in the brain" (CDC, 2014).

Not every infection leads to a disease, but many do. Diseases like cholera, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and influenza, as well as a number of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) have all reach epidemic, endemic and pandemic levels and have been associated with high incidences of mortality. The threat of outbreaks and potential for high mortality are most common factors among all of these diseases and are the main reason they are considered significant public health hazards.

Pathogens, Genetics and Infectious Diseases

Genetics is another common factor related to most infectious diseases. All of the diseases that are considered significant public health hazards, with the exception of prions, result from infection from a pathogen that is a microorganism. Microorganisms, like all organisms, contain genetic material in the form of DNA and RNA (Kaufman, 2009 and Nobel Media, 2014). This genetic material contains is a "recipe," (genetic code) that contains all the information about the cellular makeup of the organism including the composition and functions that the cell will carry out (Nobel Media, 2014). As DNA and RNA multiply in organisms there is potential for mistakes to be made as the "recipe" is put together (Nobel Media, 2014). These mistakes are known as mutations. The faster the rate of...

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