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Disease (a Health Issue)


Introduction

Although disease covers a whole range of conditions that impair the normal functioning of the body, in this section I will be concentrating on infectious diseases. That is, diseases that result from bacteria, viruses and parasites. I want to talk about how they are spread, are prevented and treated in our modern age, and how overpopulation, globalization and misinformation are causing more infections and deaths than there should be.

Infectious diseases have caused illness, disability and death throughout history. In the past, our battles with infectious diseases was fought mostly through evolutionary pressures. That is, as these infectious diseases evolved by mutating in ways that made them more infectious and better able to evade our immune defenses, we also evolved better immune systems to fight off these infections. Today, the fight has intensified. Our large globalized, overpopulated and crowded world has made it easier for infectious diseases to spread and to mutate, but we have also developed antibiotics, vaccines, and treatments to help us fight back.

An infectious disease needs a host in order to replicate. Outside of a host most bacteria, viruses and parasites are not able to survive for very long. The greater the concentration of people in a given area and the more that people travel, the easier it is for an infectious disease to spread. In addition, the more people who are infected and in turn the more that an infectious disease replicates, the more it will mutate into potentially move infectious versions.

In our modern globalized world, infectious diseases can spread around the world in just a matter of days, and infect thousands. With billions of potential hosts, who are often crowded together, these infectious diseases are spreading and evolving quickly. The more an infectious disease spreads, the more it mutates, and the more likely it will be able to re-infect those people that it has already infected. For instance, the cold virus is constantly spreading and mutating such that many people will get a cold 2 or 3 times a year.

The best way to reduce the risk of infectious diseases is to make it harder for them to spread and to mutate. That is best done by reducing our overpopulation and crowding, and by reducing our travel. It is also important to reduce our exposure by isolating people who are sick and by keeping our environment relatively clean.

However, our bodies expect and are primed to fight off infections. If our immune system does not have real infections to fight, it will try to find something else to fight, which could be our own body. Therefore, we need to ensure we do not completely cleanse our environment of infectious disease, so our immune system will be able to learn to fight off real infections, instead of resorting to attack our own body.

Bacteria and Antibiotics

There are both harmful and beneficial bacteria. About 0.3% of an average human's overall body weight is bacteria. Most of this bacteria is helpful. The bacteria in our bodies help to digest our food, destroy disease-causing cells, and provide our bodies with needed vitamins. Less than 1 percent of the different types of bacteria will make people sick. For the most part, harmful bacteria are ones that secrete or excrete toxins, which then damage our bodies' tissue and make us sick.

When it comes to harmful bacteria, the discovery of antibiotics was a game changer. Antibiotics can be used to prevent infections and to help us fight the infections we do get. However, antibiotics can kill both harmful and beneficial bacteria. On the other hand, more and more bacteria are becoming resistant to antibiotics as a result of our overuse and misuse or them.

In today's modern world, we are now adding antibiotics to soap, feeding them to livestock, and using them to try to fight viruses, where they have no effect. With all this overuse, will are killing off most of the bacteria that is most susceptible to these antibiotics, and allowing the bacteria that is most resistant to multiple and to become more prevalent.

As more harmful bacteria become resistant to our antibiotics, it becomes harder to treat infections, and we are forced to try to find ever stronger antibiotics, In fact, there are already some super bugs that are resistant to the strongest last resort antibiotics that we have. Therefore, we need to put in place strong regulations to limit the use of antibiotics to just when they are really needed, so that they will remain effective for as long as possible, while we look for even stronger ones. Since bacteria are generally spread by contact, in most cases, just washing our hands and other surfaces with regular soap and water will work just fine.

When we do need to take antibiotics, we need to ensure that we take them as directed. To save money, some people will cut their dosage or stop taking them too early. The right dosage over the right time frame is needed to ensure that the harmful bacteria are killed, and that we do not give the harmful bacteria too much time to develop resistance.

When someone takes an antibiotic, it not only kills off the harmful bacteria, but also kills a lot of the beneficial bacteria. If too much of the beneficial bacteria is killed off, that can wreak havoc with our bacterial balance, and can leave people feeling weak and tired for months until the beneficial bacteria can grow back. In some cases, someone's micro-biome may never recover on its own. Luckily, research is showing great promise with bacterial replacement treatments.

Besides antibiotics, there are also a few vaccines that will prime our immune systems to fight of specific bacteria. However, most vaccines are for viruses.

Viruses and Vaccines

A virus needs a host in order to replicate. To replicate, a virus needs to get inside a cell and to force the cell to produce new copies of itself. To spread, the virus must then get out of the cell. Between replication and breaking out of the cell, the virus kills the cell. If a virus kills too many cells, it can cause long term health issues, or even permanent damage or death.

Given the damage that a virus can do, it really makes sense to do all we can to avoid getting the virus. To do that, we want to stay away from people who are or could be infected with it. That means keeping our distance from these people (social distancing) and when appropriate, wearing appropriate protective gear, like masks. People who are or could be sick, should try to isolate themselves and wear masks when they must be around others.

If we do get a virus, we want to get over it as soon as possible, so it does the least damage to our bodies. The best way to do that is to be proactive and get vaccinated against the virus. Unless you are allergic to one of the ingredients in a vaccine, an approved vaccine is pretty save. At the very least, they are far safer than getting the virus without first being vaccinated. There are some side effects that result from getting some vaccines, however these side effects are far more prevalent and worse when you get the virus.

Since vaccines simply activate our immune systems to fight the viruses and not killing them directly, viruses cannot develop resistance to the vaccine. However, viruses do mutate, so updated vaccines are needed when we allow a virus to spread too much. Therefore, it is very important for as many people to get vaccinated as possible in order to reduce the spread or the viruses and to reduce their ability to mutate.

vaccine and mask misinformation and mandates

For a long time, there have been people who have advocated against vaccines. They have claimed all sorts of problems with vaccines, even after those claims have been proven to be false. Although many people have been manipulated into believing these false claims about the danger from vaccines, many of the most outspoken anti-vaccine activists have ulterior motives. Some are promoting alternative treatments that they can make money from selling, others are in it for the notoriety, or some other despicable reason. Recently, anti-vaccine and anti-mask misinformation has become very political.

Unless an unvaccinated person is a hermit, that person has a high probability of catching that virus, especially if that person is around a lot of other people who are not vaccinated. Therefore, when a vaccine can help reduce the risks associated with catching the virus, it makes no sense not to get vaccinated.

During our recent pandemic, people have been asked to wear masks in order to slow the spread of the virus. Although masks do provide some protection for the person wearing the mask, more protection is afforded to the people around the person wearing the mask. That is, the main reason for wearing a mask it to protect your friends, families and neighbors in case you are infectious.

However, a lot of people do not want to wear a mask. Yes, masks are a bit uncomfortable, and do make it harder to breath and to talk, and so on. However, they are an important means to protect us from spreading the virus during the pandemic. I believe that those people who are against wearing masks would sing a different tune if the surgical staff who was operating on them decided not to wear masks.

There are also people who do not want mask and vaccine mandates, and some legislatures and governors are even enacting laws to ban then. However, there are many cases where having everyone masked and/or vaccinated is vitally important, like with surgical staff.

In most cases, people who are barring mandates, simply say they are against mandates. However, there is a fundamental flaw with barring mandates, in that barring a mandate is in itself a mandate. The only difference is in what is being mandated. In the case of mandating masks and vaccinations, the government is doing so in order to protect people, which our governments have a responsibility to do. In the other case, the government is mandating that people cannot be protected, which means these governments are shirking their responsibility to protect people.

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Last Updated:
Sunday, February 13, 2022
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