It’s interesting to think about how we perceived diseases and how they are portrayed from early civilizations to now. As we discussed with Professor Ebersole the timeline of how humans came to understand disease has been ever developing and is filled with major steps forward and even further steps back. The timeline can be seen even in other discussions that we have had. One example would be a discussion with Professor Carlon on the Iatros reading. People from that time period believed it was the Greek Gods who caused the disease because they would get upset. And even in today’s society we make references to the different perspectives that people have in regards to the disease. Sometimes one of the conceptual views is part of a storyline of a TV episode (such as the 4 horsemen in Charmed) or a conceptual view is taught in class. In Olivia’s pharmacology class, the idea of an evolutionary arms race by creating new drugs against pathogens is quite present.
Despite the changing views on pathogens, one thing that seems to have followed them is their personification. From their personification in the 4 Horseman, to their ability to move amongst hosts, it seems that pathogens have always had certain characteristics that have been attributed to humans, such as conquest. It almost seems fitting that pestilence was first conquest, since disease is the constant attempt to conquest the host. From the undefeatable foe to the current focus on evolutionary direction, pathogens seem to have a connection to our own evolution.
Their evolution is connected directly to ours, which may be attributed to why is continues to be personified. With changes in our own hygiene and hospital standards, pathogens have had to evolve in certain ways to infect new hosts and continue their survival. As we have culturally evolved, they have evolved as well. It is interesting to think that their evolution is partly depend on our own.
Other reactions brought up in class included a student pointing out that humans can be like diseases as we try to adapt to new environment. Professor Ebersole responds that as long as humans can manage their environment, they can live on and on unlike a disease where it constantly has to infect a new host. Another student asks what is a successful parasite, the benign or virulent one? Ebersole answers that both are as long as it is producing over time.