DDI09-BQ-AT-Disease - AT: Disease Dartmouth 2K9 1 AT:...

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AT: Disease Dartmouth 2K9 1 AT: Disease Disease 1
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AT: Disease Dartmouth 2K9 2 Disease Frontline (1/3) 1. Pandemics inevitable because of viruses Gladwell bureau chief of The Washington Post ‘95 (Malcolm Gladwell ‘95 New York bureau chief of The Washington Post, New Republic, July 17, 1995) This is what is wrong with the Andromeda Strain argument. Every infectious agent that has ever plagued humanity has had to adopt a specific strategy, but every strategy carries a corresponding cost, and this makes human counterattack possible . Malaria is vicious and deadly , but it relies on mosquitoes to spread from one human to the next, which means that draining swamps and putting up mosquito netting can all but halt endemic malaria. Smallpox is extraordinarily durable, remaining infectious in the environment for years, but its very durability, its essential rigidity, is what makes it one of the easiest microbes to create a vaccine against. aids is almost invariably lethal because its attacks the body at its point of great vulnerability, that is, the immune system, but the fact that it targets blood cells is what makes it so relatively uninfectious. I could go on, but the point is obvious. Any microbe capable of wiping us all out would have to be everything at once: as contagious as flu, as durable as the cold, as lethal as Ebola, as stealthy as HIV and so doggedly resistant to mutation that it would stay deadly over the course of a long epidemic. But viruses are not, well, superhuman. They cannot do everything at once. It is one of the ironies of the analysis of alarmists such as Preston that they are all too willing to point out the limitations of human beings, but they neglect to point out the limitations of microscopic life forms. If there are any conclusions to be drawn about disease, they are actually the opposite of what is imagined in books such as The Hot Zone and The Coming Plague. It is true that the effect of the dramatic demographic and social changes in the world over the past few decades is to create new opportunities for disease. But they are likely to create not homogeneous patterns of disease, as humans experienced in the past, so much as heterogeneous patterns of disease. People are traveling more and living in different combinations. Gene pools that were once distinct are mixing through intermarriage. Adults who once would have died in middle age are now living into their 80s. Children with particular genetic configurations who once died at birth or in infancy are now living longer lives. If you talk to demographers, they will tell you that what they anticipate is increasing clusters of new and odd diseases moving into these new genetic and demographic niches. Rare diseases will be showing up in greater numbers. Entirely unknown diseases will emerge for the first time. But the same diversity that created them within those population subgroups will keep them there. Laurie Garrett's book is mistitled. We are not facing "the coming plague." We are facing "the coming outbreaks
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This note was uploaded on 12/20/2010 for the course K 101 taught by Professor Staff during the Fall '10 term at UMass Lowell.

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DDI09-BQ-AT-Disease - AT: Disease Dartmouth 2K9 1 AT:...

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