Topic5 - HLTH 101 Fall 2011 1 T OPIC 5: C HANGES IN H EALTH...

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HLTH 101 Fall 2011 1 TOPIC 5: CHANGES IN HEALTH THROUGH EMERGING AND RE-EMERGING INFECTIOUS DISEASES 1: THE BIOLOGY OIF INFECTIOUS DISEASES We’ve now seen that there have been patterns throughout history in the types of diseases from which humans suffer. Briefly, our ancient ancestors living from 40,000 to 10,000 years ago likely experienced few of the infectious diseases known to our more recent ancestors. For most of the past 10,000 years, those who died prematurely often did so from an assortment of infectious diseases that, in most cases, still exist today but are rarely the cause of death in our present society. Rather, over the past 160 years or so, as we’ve become less susceptible to those diseases, we’ve become increasingly exposed to non-infectious diseases that usually become symptomatic relatively late in life. We are now at a point in this course where we can begin to look more closely at the diseases that were prevalent in the past as well as those that are prevalent today. In the lectures, we’ll see that these major diseases can be classified according to concepts that go beyond their names. For example, infectious diseases can be classified as diseases involving what we will refer to as “the ecology of the human body” and the way in which that ecology adapts to changes both inside and outside the body. Specifically, we’ll see that the human body coexists with hundreds or even thousands of other species of organisms in a variety of relationships. Because of this symbiotic relationship, what is important in these diseases isn’t just whether or not an infectious organism has invaded the body: what’s important is what happens between the body, it pre-existing microorganisms, and the invading organism. In other words, we need to understand the ecology of microorganisms and the human body. Since this isn’t a zoology course, this overview will not be very comprehensive, focusing only on those aspects that have a direct bearing on infectious diseases. Specifically, we’ll spend most of our
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HLTH 101 Fall 2011 2 time discussing the ways in which the various microorganisms i) adapt to their environments; ii) reproduce themselves once they reside in their respective environments; and iii) interact with their environment. Be sure that you understand why these are the important aspects in this course. Furthermore, note that these three aspects are not mutually exclusive but are integrated into one another. Be sure that you understand this! We’ll then move on to a discussion of the biology of infectious organisms. This is probably the most important aspect not only of this topic but of the whole course. Therefore, you must understand the biology of infectious diseases in order to make sense of the rest of the course. The first part of this discussion deals with relationships between
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This note was uploaded on 01/20/2012 for the course HLTH 101 taught by Professor Ward during the Spring '08 term at Waterloo.

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Topic5 - HLTH 101 Fall 2011 1 T OPIC 5: C HANGES IN H EALTH...

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