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Investigating Disease - Essay Example

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Tuberculosis (TB) is a chronic, infectious disease that usually attacks the lungs but which is capable of attacking other parts of the body as well. It has long been considered a killer but it ceased to be a threat once antibiotics to control the disease were discovered…
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Investigating Disease
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Download file to see previous pages This global resurgence of TB, according to Volmink and Murphy (2005) can be attributed to, " neglect of tuberculosis control programmes, HIV infection and immigration from high-prevalence countries" (p. 321). In 1993, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared TB a global emergency.
It was the scientist Robert Koch who isolated Mycobacterium tuberculosis, a species of bacteria as the causal factor. The disease may be latent or active. In the former stage individuals are infected with the bacterium, but the immune system fights off the bacteria, preventing the manifestation of symptoms. Here the individual is usually not contagious. In the active stage, individuals show symptoms and are contagious. A deficient immune system exacerbates the condition; therefore organs besides the lungs are susceptible to infection. According to Heinsohn (2004), "Extrapulmonary TB may affect any organ or tissue but is much less common than pulmonary TB" (p. 7). Pulmonary tuberculosis is contagious with increased risk of infection. With the discovery of streptomycin by Selman Waksman, antibiotics have repeatedly proved their efficacy in the treatment of TB. However the US Congress, Office of Technology Assessment warns that "When a patient takes TB medication erratically or when an inadequate combination of drugs is prescribed, active, infectious TB can recur in a form resistant to one or more of the drugs used in the original treatment" (The Continuing Challenge of Tuberculosis, 1993,p. 6). Thus Multidrug- Resistant tuberculosis poses a threat in controlling and preventing the spread of the disease.
Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a hereditary, genetic disorder that results in the secretion of abnormally thick mucous that damages organs, leading to respiratory and digestive problems that ultimately cause death. While primarily associated with the lungs, this disease also attacks the pancreas, small intestine, and all glands where cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) plays a vital role in efficient functioning. Thus Kolbe (2005), calls it " a multisystem disease affecting children and increasingly so, adults" (p. 361). It is an incurable and fatal disorder. Branscomb (1994) found that, "In spite of treatment, most patients die during infancy or childhood. Rarely, patients survive past the age of 20" (p. 318). However with improved diagnosis and treatment measures, more patients are surviving to reach adulthood.
Tuberculosis and cystic fibrosis are usually seen as diseases of the lungs or pulmonary disorders, as it is here that they do the most damage. But both have debilitating effects on other organs as well. TB is a contagious disease as inhaling infectious particles can transmit it. Contact with infectious droplets may occur via coughing, sneezing or laughing. Preventive strategies play an important role in curbing the disease. Meanwhile CF is a genetic disorder that is brought about by defective genes. Therefore treatment is difficult as these disorders are very complex and scientists and researchers have a long way to go in cracking the genetic code, pertaining to these disorders. Both diseases call for early diagnosis and treatment to stem the damage that is sure to result otherwise. Counselling for the individual and family is imperative in both cases, as it helps people come to terms with the devastating impact of the disease while promoting social ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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