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Compare and contrast provision against contagious diseases in the nineteenth and twenty first centuries?


Contagious disease


Contagious disease is described as infections which could be transferred from one person to another by direct contact. Contagious disease are still considered to be the major killing agents in the world and the situation has worsened with tuberculosis, malaria, HIV and now recently Ebola taking a huge toll on mankind.

These are more apparent in developing world where the sheer survival in early childhood is again a major challenge to the question of survivability as acute respiratory diseases and diarrhoea accounting for close to six million young lives every year.

While individuals falling sick require the medical expertise to survive the odd against these communicable diseases, it’s the assessment of cause and controlling measures that will help the community to fight against these diseases effectively.


Background information of contagious disease

Any contagious disease could either be epidemic or endemic. The epidemic forms usually are seasonal and most of the time any new form of contagious diseases are epidemic, whereas endemic forms are generally restricted to any geographical forms.

The learning process of disease is a long complicated time consuming method where any new epidemic needs to be understood from its category, vectors involved and incubation period. The disease unless understood from factors cannot be controlled from spreading, and then eradicated properly (Ludwig, 2005)..

Epidemiology is concerned with the community science where the common characteristics of a disease is compared with other relative ones and analysed. With every passing day the same bacteria’s and virus that could be killed or restrained with antibiotics are now getting stronger and stronger by mutating. The same virulent now could survive in multiple hosts and that makes the task even more complicated for mankind to survive in this ever changing scenario.

Various factors both natural and artificial have influenced the manner in which these diseases have spread and became potent killers even in modern times. The nutrition pattern, diet, the general hygiene conditions, the health systems and overall medical advances along with perceptions have all contributed to both spreading and restricting into new segments of society.

During the colonial period most of the causes of death were basically the infectious diseases and if there was any change in the rate of mortality it was only because

  • The mode of transmission

  • Immunity to disease

  • Other methods were of course treatment of disease

Aim of learning about contagious disease

The main aim of learning about contagious disease is to prevent transmission and reduce the level of infection.

The precautionary measures one has to undertake are flu vaccination, pre departure TB test and followed by re test after 12 weeks.

The mode of transmission is another vital bit of information which is essential to reduce and finally stop the spreading of disease.

Proper quarantine methods are also essential to eradicate the contagious disease from a geographical area or community.


The spreading and infection depended completely on how these bacteria’s and virus survived in a particular weather pattern along with how well the spreading is restricted.

  • The low death rates in New England were due to quarantine measures and laws which generally reduced the spread of the disease (Bashford, 2006).

  • The higher death rates in south were mainly due to suitable weather patterns for these microbes to survive apart from no or minimal quarantine measures.

Density of population, sanitation, nutritional intake all combine together how good a epidemic could be contained.

These increase in infectious diseases affected negatively the children and their nutritional status.

  • The nutritional deficiency resulted in deficit growth and development.

  • Reduction in average weight and height of children

  • Class difference resulted in difference in growth pattern as well

  • Infection and contagious disease also resulted in higher casualty during war

The wide spread use of antibiotics have made the medicines ineffective against the new strains of microbes. Humankind have become susceptible to new variants of disease which are either spread through animals, birds, body fluids, apart from the normal route of direct contact.

Non availability of drugs, resistance to drugs, new entrants of vectors and wide spread use of medicines have led to a situation of emergency in many countries to fight against super bugs.


Thesis statement

Contagious disease is here to stay and the mutating microbes could become the greatest  risk factor for the survival of the entire human kind.

Vaccination historical background

The term vaccine is basically a Latin word derivation which means cow prevented a disease. As vacca means cow and as cowpox prevented the spread of small pox (Ludwig, 2005).

The vaccine era began in  1774 when Benjamin Jesty showed the immunity to small pox. This person had cowpox and later on inocoluted his wife and sons. Almost 22 years later Edward Jenner published his work and mouse pox virus replaced cowpox in the vacine.

It was noticed that the vaccine lost its potency when it went through serial human testing and the virus mutated when it passed from human to another and was no longer immunogenic.

Contagious disease summary


Category : Measles is caused by the measles virus


Vectors : Humans are the natural hosts of the virus; no other animal reservoirs are known to exist.

Measles is an endemic disease and many people have developed immunity


Statistics : WHO in 2011 estimated that there were about 158,000 deaths caused by measles down from 630000 in 1990


Vaccinition : MMR vaccine is given to children to immunizeagainst measles at 12 months


Symptoms : Fever, Dry cough, Runny nose, Sore throat, Inflamed eyes or conjunctivitis, Tiny white spots with bluish-white centers, skin rash


Historical background : It was known even during 165 AD and was known as plague of Galen.

Responsible for the many deaths in Inca civilization, and in between 1855 and 2005 it is estimated to have killed 200 million people worldwide


Category : It is caused by the influenza virus


Vectors : Animals birds human contact. By direct transmission, airbourne transmission, and through hand to hand, hand to nose, hand to mouth and contaminated surfaces


Statistics :The disease kills between 2 and 20% of those who are infected.

The first influenza virus was isolated in 1901 from poultry.


Vaccinition :Influenza vaccin


Symptoms :Fever or feeling feverish/chills, Cough, Sore throat, Runny or stuffy nose, Muscle or body aches, Headaches, Fatigue


Historical background :The human influenza were present 2400 years ago.

The disease was first described in 1703 by J. Hugger of the University of Edinburgh.


Category : Tuberculosis is caused by Mycobacteria


Vectors : Human, cattle and deer


Statistics : Almost one-third of the world's population has been infected with tuberculosis with new infections occurring in about 1% of the population each year.

Tuberculosis is the second-most common cause of death from infectious disease after HIV / AIDS


Vaccination : BCG


Symptoms : Coughing that lasts three or more weeks,Coughing up blood, Chest pain, or pain with breathing or coughing, Unintentional weight loss. Fatigue, Fever, Night sweats, Chills.


Historical background : Tuberculosis has been present in humans since ancient times.

The first evidence of the disease is found in the remains of bison in Wyoming dated to around 17,000 years ago.


Category : Intestinal bacterial infection


Vectors : Human waste, drinking water, food


Statistics :The first cholera pandemic occurred in the Bengal region of India starting in 1817 through 1824.

The disease has killed tens of millions of people in 19th century


Vaccination : Oral vaccination


Symptoms :Rapid heart rate, Loss of skin elasticity, dry mucous membranes, low blood pressure, Thirst, Muscle cramps.


Historical background :Cholera has originated in India and was prevalent in the Ganges delta since ancient times.

Small pox

Category : caused by virus


Vectors : Transmission occurs mainly by inhalation of airborne variola virus, mostly by droplets from the oral, nasal, or pharyngeal mucosa of an infected person.


Statistics : The disease, for which no effective treatment was ever developed, killed as many as 30% of those infected.

In the early 1950s an estimated 50 million cases of smallpox occurred in the world each year, a figure which fell toaround 10 – 15 million by 1967 because of vaccination


Vaccination : within three days of exposure and smallpox vaccine is a live virus preparation given to patient using bifurcated needle.




Historical background : Originated in ancient India at around 1500 BC

Comparison of contagious disease in 19th and 21st century


Contagious disease 19th century

Contagious disease 21stcentury

New strains of virus and bacteria

New mutated strains of virus and bacteria

Virus and bacteria thrived due to non-availability of vaccines and effective drugs

Virus and bacteria thrives due to over use of drugs and antibiotics

Virus and bacteria transferred from animals into humans

Virus and bacteria can now survive in both human and animal

Animals served as reservoir of virus and bacteria

Virus and bacteria can now survive in dual host easily

Malaria, TB and other contagious disease could not be controlled effectively

The malaria, tuberculosis and other infectious diseases remain enormous global problems

Casual approach of community against contagious disease

Careless attitude of communities encourages contagious disease spreading


Contagious disease 19th century

Contagious disease 21st century

Vaccines and drugs were not effective against most disease

Vaccines and drugs are developed to effectively reduce the infection level

Research time for any infection detection was more

Faster research time and development of drugs

Preventive measures against contagious disease were not effective

Better enhanced preventive measures against contagious disease

Government  contribution for research work

Private and Government partnering against contagious disease research work

Selective cooperation between countries

Better and enhanced country to country and research units across the globe




Use of vaccine in limited amount of drugs against microbes in controlled manner can control and reduce the threat to humankind. The advent of over usage and uncontrolled use of drugs caused mutations of these microbes and hence has led to a situation where people are more susceptible to disease (Easterlin, 2009).

The change in life style, food intake and living conditions have increased the threat level of microbe invasion even more than what it was in early 19th century. The strains are more powerful and immune to drugs. The advent of super bug has now taken the challenge of microbe led war against humankind to a new level.



1. Nutbeam, D. (2000). Health literacy as a public health goal: a challenge for contemporary health education and communication strategies into the 21st century.Health promotion international, 15(3), 259-267.

2. Olshansky, S. J., Passaro, D. J., Hershow, R. C., Layden, J., Carnes, B. A., Brody, J., ... & Ludwig, D. S. (2005). A potential decline in life expectancy in the United States in the 21st century.New England Journal of Medicine,352(11), 1138-1145.

3. Tulchinsky, T. H., & Varavikova, E. A. (2014).The new public health: an introduction for the 21st century. Academic Press.

4. Sclar, E. D., Garau, P., & Carolini, G. (2005). The 21st century health challenge of slums and cities.The Lancet, 365(9462), 901-903.

5. Bashford, A. (2006).Medicine at the border: disease, globalization and security, 1850 to the present. Palgrave Macmillan.

6. Easterlin, R. A. (2009).Growth triumphant: the twenty-first century in historical perspective. University of Michigan Press.

7. Barnett, T. P. (2005).The Pentagon's new map: War and peace in the twenty-first century. Penguin.

8. Arnold, D. (1993).Colonizing the body: State medicine and epidemic disease in nineteenth-century India. Univ of California Press.

9. Abraham, T. (2007).Twenty-first century plague: the story of SARS. JHU Press.

10. Aginam, O. (2002). International law and communicable diseases.Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 80(12), 946-951.

11. Hess, G. R. (1994). Conservation corridors and contagious disease: a cautionary note.Conservation Biology, 8(1), 256-262.

12. Fischer, J. R., Stallknecht, D. E., Luttrell, P., Dhondt, A. A., & Converse, K. A. (1997). Mycoplasmal conjunctivitis in wild songbirds: the spread of a new contagious disease in a mobile host population.Emerging infectious diseases,3(1), 69.

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