Within the past few years, you likely have heard of outbreaks pertaining to tuberculosis, malaria, avian flu, dengue, corona virus, Ebola, influenza, c. diff, measles, MRSA, MERS, HIV, and more. Zika is another example of an ever present and growing recognition of the remarkable ingenuity of emerging pathogens. (Zika Fact Sheets and Posters).
Pathogens are among nearly 30% of all microorganisms (including bacterium, protozoa, and virus). They cause serious disease and are responsible for more death than any other single cause worldwide.
Pathogens are difficult to control because they readily adapt and take advantage of opportunity survive including becoming resistant to antibiotics and antimicrobial soap. Without diligent precautions, these modern micro-zombies could travel by water, air, soil, insects, bodily fluids, animals, and even hang out on neckties, surgical instruments, and on the hands of very caring healthcare workers. In doing so, the invisible invaders are approaching the top of the food chain because “They literally outsmart and eat us.”
In all fairness, most microorganisms are very helpful. For example, without billions of bacteria within our intestines, we would be unable to digest our own food for energy. These beneficial microorganisms also help to create the air we breathe and some are essential to make medications, vaccines, foods, and much more.
However, we may well soon encounter a global battle between the pathogenic variety of microorganisms and ourselves. Attempts to control these ruthless invaders require a unified approach from and for all people. Perhaps then we can simultaneously eliminate opportunity for pathogens to survive while providing more people with the chance to live healthy lives.
Feeling adventurous and want an educational pathogen challenge? Click on this link to play Solve the Outbreak an interactive game by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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