Author: gji203

Tough, resistant and collaborative

Similar to cholera, tuberculosis has been existence. There’s a world health day (March 24) for tuberculosis to keep raising awareness of the disease. There is a cure for cholera and there should be one for tuberculosis, since they have both existed for the longest time. Well, right and wrong. Right because TB can because there is a cure for TB and wrong because Multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) is difficult and expensive. People from middle to low-income backgrounds cannot afford MDR-TB drugs. A lot has been done to prevent and manage cholera (as seen in Steven Johnson’s Ghost Map) and prevent massive outbreaks but TB has been a lot more tougher because the bacteria is tough resistant and collaborative. It is tough and can reside in an individual for many years, without detection. Could pass as normal cough, making it easy to infect others. The bacteria collaborates with HIV/AIDS, and the combo becomes lethal for the host. Infact, according to WHO, tuberculosis is currently on the list of the top 10 causes of death in the world.

It would be worth studying the history of tuberculosis and how it has remained strong for several decades, unlike other diseases (plague, cholera) that have been studied in class. Kathryn Lougheed’s book captures the story of tuberculosis from the past to the present. Kathryn is a microbiologist turned writer and it is a chance to see from the lens of someone who has interacted with the bacteria. Bonus: Kathryn is a female writer and one of the few in the course of studying contagion.

Armed with science/knowledge, are we completely safe from disease?

Armed with science/knowledge, are we completely safe from disease?

Our safety depends on being able to predict the evolutionary path that viruses and bacteria will take in the coming decades…” Stephen Johnson (pg 255)

Irrespective of man’s knowledge of the spread of various diseases, man is still locked in a battle with diseases. Not just any disease, but viruses and bacteria that have previously occurred which means science is aware of their evolutionary path and mode of spread.
For instance, Snow paved the way for understanding vibrio cholera, the bacteria that causes cholera, and ever since, there has been massive research and a vast degree of knowledge on cholera. Yet, the disease keeps ravaging the society. Yemen in 2017, recorded 500,000 deaths caused by cholera (much more deaths compared to the London epidemic). Seeing cholera (and other disease) outbreaks in various parts of the world raises the question: are we completely safe from diseases when we have knowledge of the evolutionary pattern and mode of spread of these diseases, just as Stephen claims?