Infectious Diseases : History And Molecular Pathology Essay

1922 Words Dec 23rd, 2016 8 Pages
Prion infectious diseases: History and molecular pathology

It is circa 500 BC, and Hippocrates records rare but localised outbreaks of madness within livestock; he observes that the animals’ neurological capabilities rapidly decline after years of apparent normality. When he investigates, he finds that the brains of these animals are ‘very full of dropsy and of an evil odour’. He hypothesises that this disease would be able to spread and infect humans too (McAlister, 2005). To him, this is obviously not a product of Gods like the common ideas of infection at the time, instead he describes it as ‘organic’.
It is 1755, farmers in Britain watch their sheep go into hysteria, rubbing their hind-quarters against fenceposts and rocks until they are red-raw, developing strange strides, and falling to the ground convulsing (Foster, 2001). This is brought to the attention of the House of Commons as deaths in flocks are left unexplained. Similar phenomenon are occurring in Germany and France.
It is now 1921 and Alfons Maria Jakob studies five middle aged men and women who are losing physical capabilities, speech, memory, and emotion. He records that they eventually reach a vegetative state within a few weeks and a few months of showing symptoms and die. He is astounded by his findings and publishes four papers in the three years of studying them. Upon reading Hans Gerhard Creutzfeldt’s paper on his own findings, Jakob relates the two cases as ‘very closely connected if not…

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