Disease & Evolution

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Disease and Evolution
The human body has been plagued with diseases since the beginning of time—pathogens like viruses and bacteria have made us privy to Mother Nature. As humans evolve, so do the diseases we are susceptible to. Some diseases that were once rare have become common, others have disappeared and newer, more daunting ones have emerged. Many of these changes have taken place in the wake of important transformations in human civilizations and ecology. It is therefore feasible to propose that diseases succeed and fail in response to humanity's advances. Natural selection is unable to provide us with perfect protection against all pathogens, because they tend to evolve much faster than humans do. E. coli, for example, with its rapid rates of reproduction, has as much opportunity for mutation and selection in one day as humanity gets in a millennium. And our defenses, whether natural or artificial, make for potent selection forces. Pathogens either quickly evolve a counter defense or become extinct. Diseases such as AIDS, Ebola, Polio have shown their wrath and humans have sought to find cures and treatment options. By definition, disease is essentially “a disorder of structure or function that produces specific signs or symptoms or that affect a specific location (not just from a physical injury)” (WHO, 2007). The true boundaries and limitations of disease remain elusive. Healthcare specialists and researchers use “normal” conditions as their basis in order to understand what disease is. By understanding what disease is, one can target and identify the causes of the “abnormal” condition. The truth about diseases is that they are all relative.
The question of how disease came to be remains unanswered though. Diseases are about as old as time—they have always plagued mankind. A vast majority of existing human infectious disease have their origin in other…...

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