History has long been perceived as true-to-life stories that took place decades or centuries ago and will always be remembered for the changes that have been incurred in society. The most popular historical events generally consist of wars and authoritative government figures that have influenced a country, and possibly even the entire world. Amidst such revolutionary transformations, there are also biological changes that have occurred through time and such events have been the prime interest of scientists and medical researchers.
In an article in the U. S. News and World Report, Shulman (2008) described the twelve diseases that were identified by the biologist Irwin Sherman as the essential modifiers of history. The twelve diseases were all microbiological in origin– some caused by bacteria yet most were of viral in origin. The article is a significant read because it illustrates the impact of medicine in the course of history, as these diseases afflict not only political leaders and the society at large, but also the economic condition in every country around the globe.
The article is an interesting read because it summarizes Sherman’s book entitled “Twelve Diseases That Changed Our World” and provides the layman a synopsis of the entire book. In addition, it provided a holistic view on how the world has changed through time. However, after careful research into the topic itself, I have realized that the readers of this article should be cautious of the entire concept of diseases and our changing world because most of the current conditions that we observe around the globe are generally due to several factors, both biological and non-biological.
This paper will attempt to provide additional insight and further explain the concept of the “evolving” world. The article claims that there are twelve major diseases and have conferred a huge impact on a global scale. I personally believe that most of the information that the article states is true, but the reader has to take each point in the article with a grain of salt. From the research I have performed on this topic, I have gained more information and thus a better understanding of the topic, hence I would caution the general public to be cautious in believing everything they read in popular magazines and newspapers.
It seems to me that Shulman (2008) has provided the trivial information on the twelve major diseases in relation to our evolving world and I will provide additional information that may strengthen or disprove the points of this article. In the case of smallpox, Shulman (2008) has indicated that this is the only contagious that has been totally controlled through the employment of vaccines.
This is actually not true because there are currently vaccines for chickenpox, mumps and rubella that are being administered to infants, children and adults hence it is only a matter of time that these infectious diseases will also soon be under control (Macartney and McIntyre, 2008). It is true the smallpox has served as the trigger to the comprehensive studies on vaccine development, yet the author should be careful in his quick expression of his point that other diseases will soon be eliminated through the use of vaccinations.
The author is partly true in this statement that a new type of vaccine may be released in the future but caution should be taken when stating that studies of immunity and vaccines will result in a new vaccine that will serve as the answer to the problem of infectious diseases. Recent biomedical research has indicated that the issue of infectious diseases is not only a matter of studying the topics of immunity and vaccine design. Other factors also influence the degree and distribution of every medical disorder.
Tuberculosis, on the other hand, provides a different biomedical story. In Shulman’s article (2008), the only information that can be taken from this publication is the eugenic efforts that society has taken in order to contain the infectious pathogen, such as the employment of an enclosed building or sanitorium to keep the patients in and prevent further transmission of the disease to the rest of the society. The article thus only provides the tip of the iceberg with respect to the degree of tuberculosis infections across the globe for the past decades.
It is true that the search for antibiotics was triggered by the onset of tuberculosis and currently a multitude of antibiotics are now in circulation around the world for treatment of different bacterial infections. However, it is also of interesting note that the abuse and misuse of antibiotics through the years has caused a negative effect to public health. Poor usage of antibiotics has now resulted in the emergence of multi-drug resistant bacteria and among the most robust bacterial strains as that of Mycobacterium tuberculosis the strain the causes tuberculosis of the lungs.
Such bacterial strain has thus re-emerged in society and has posed a threat because of its resistance to common tuberculosis antibiotics such as rifampicin, kanamycin and isoniazid (Jain and Mondal, 2008). The infectious disease of syphilis has been strongly linked to the efforts in identifying a chemothepeutic reagent that could both attach and destroy the pathogen. This information is well represented in Shulman’s paper (2008), yet there are still other important reports that need to be given additional attention to in order to better understand the public health problem.
During the earlier years when syphilis was first discovered, the disease was generally observed a sexually transmitted disease and years later after the application of salvorsan, the symptoms of syphilis dissipated and the disease itself was not as aggressive as it was first observed. However, evolution has also modified the syphilis virus and currently, the pathogen is still transmitted among human beings are is now harder to treat because the virus has mutated as a milder virus but now carrying a capacity to be resistant to salvorsan, making any current therapeutic agent ineffective for administration to patients.
Thus the article of Shulman (2008) could be more informative if this current condition of the syphilis pathogen was described because society may not be aware that syphilis can still be transmitted from one individual to another without them knowing it because the symptoms of syphilis may not be physically obvious and further sexual relations without the knowledge of this current state may further distribute the virus to more members of society.