"To inspire them to realize more and more of their capacities for living meaningful lives. Because there certainly is meaning to life."
-John Coltrane on Uplifting Others

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Evolution and Medicine

I work in the Widstoe Building on the weekends doing minor janitorial work. That's the way I like to keep my relationship with science: on an acquaintance level. After reading Origins of Species, my mind went back to my acquaintance and a comic strip posted there. It is on a professor's door, I believe on the seventh floor, and it depicts a doctor talking to a patient about TB. The doctor asks his reeling patient if he believes in evolution and whether he would like the disease treated as it once was or as it is today.
That was a really awkward sentence, so let me break it down for you. Diseases are evolving at a rapid pace. It seems that once a new vaccine comes out for TB (Not Tampa Bay!), a new, more deadly or contagious strain arises. Flu is another example of this rapid evolution; in the early twentieth century, it was Spanish flu that caused death and quarantine. Now, populations the world over fear for both avian and swine flu. Even though we have shots, thousands die around the world from the flu.
Science is desperately trying to combat new forms of old threats by understanding their evolutionary patterns, but my question is: Is it worth it? Could man's attempt to vaccinate be causing some of the problems?

1 comment:

  1. In my microbiology class, my teacher, Dr. Robison, said that the vaccines eliminate the 'nicer' strains of the microbe, leaving the more deadly ones to proliferate. It is interesting to think about. Is there a point where we can clean and sanitize and vaccinate to much?