The transmission of disease requires the interaction of the environment, an agent, and the host of the disease. Diseases may be transmitted through media such as air, water, and contact. Airborne diseases are transmitted from one host to the other with air as the medium (Kigen 13). In an elevator bound for the fifth floor, a person with a cough may transmit several diseases to the people sharing the elevator car. The following essay highlights some of the infections that may be acquired from an individual coughing in the elevator.
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Airborne microorganisms in the elevator may be bacterial, viral, fungal, or parasitic (Yassin 21). The most common microorganisms spread via this route are viruses (Prince 15). Examples of viruses are the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), flu viruses, influenza, Ebola, Marburg, and common cold viruses. Airborne infections are difficult to control because they often do not require an intermediate host. In fact, some of the current outbreaks if influenza strains have spread over continents and killed several people (Smith 27).
Viruses are the commonly acquired through the respiratory route and spread in the same manner (Yassin 19). However, most of the common respiratory viruses cause a self-limiting illness that is rarely fatal. Some viral illnesses such as Ebola usually lead to morbidity and mortality of victims. These are, however, rare and require public health interventions to ensure that they do not spread fast. Vaccines are available for most of the respiratory illnesses that are caused by viruses.
Aside from viral infections, some bacterial infections are also airborne. Unlike the viral infections, bacterial illnesses are often debilitating and may be fatal (Becker and Darai 13). One of the commonest bacterial infections that are spread via this route is pulmonary tuberculosis. A single cough by an individual with pulmonary tuberculosis may contain thousands of mycobacterium that may be enough to cause tuberculosis in people close to a coughing TB patient (Yassin 25). The condition may spread to extrapulmonary areas causing a severe illness that may be fatal. Despite TB being common in immunocompromised patients such as HIV patients, it is also common in healthy individuals with constant exposure.
Anthrax is another bacterial infection that is spread via this route. The inhalational exposure to anthrax may be fatal. In some of the developing nations, anthrax is common in areas where animal outbreaks take place. Additionally, the illness results in an unprecedented release of body chemicals that eventually lead to a respiratory collapse in the affected patients (Prince 15). The progression of this disease is fast, and the mortality is usually high. Consequently, patients need to seek medical attention when the symptoms are present. Anthrax is not common in this region, and the individual in the elevator may not have the disease.
Protozoa and parasites are also spread through this route. An example of these pulmonary infections is cryptococcosis that is found in areas that are steamy and stuffy (Parker 17). Although the condition is usually not fatal, it can lead to temporary disability and the death of the infected individual. In others, the parasitic infection is self-limiting and causes only minor reactions in the body. The microorganisms discussed can cause serious illnesses if acquired in the elevator or anywhere else. Better disease control for some of these has led to the reduction in transmission of the airborne diseases. However, there is still a risk of acquiring these conditions.
Becker, Yechiel, and Gholamreza Darai. Diagnosis of Human Viruses by Polymerase Chain Reaction Technology. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 1992. Print.
Kigen, Sarah. Bloodborne and Airborne Pathogens. 6th ed. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2012. Print.
Parker, James N. The Official Patient’s Sourcebook on Cryptococcosis. San Diego, Calif.: Icon Health Publications, 2002. Print.
Prince, Alice. Mucosal Immunology of Acute Bacterial Pneumonia. New York, NY: Springer, 2013. Print.
Smith, Kenneth M. Viruses. Cambridge: U, 1962. Print.
Yassin, Kenneth. Transmission of Viruses and Interactions with Bacteria. Wallingford: CABI, 2012. Print.