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UNIT 12: Unraveling the Mysteries of Infectious and Non-Infectious Diseases

Introduction: UNIT 12: Unraveling the Mysteries of Infectious and Non-Infectious Diseases

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The aim of this essay is to conduct in-depth research on different types of infectious agents and non-infectious diseases. Another important purpose of this essay is to develop a relationship between disease progression and the effect of diseases on human health. Therefore, this proposed assessment will include two separate case studies related to the disease processes in reference to non-infectious diseases and infectious diseases. The primary focus of this assessment is the term "Disease". At first sight, the definition of disease looks very straightforward, and most of the people have an intuitive grasp of the idea and image that common colds, flu, cancers, and tuberculosis, can be terms as diseases. However, according to WHO or World Health Organisation, health can be defined as a state of complete mental social, and physical well-being, not mere absence of infirmity or diseases. Therefore, to highlight this terminology, this assessment will include the identification and explanation of the main features of infectious agents like Bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens. On the other hand, non-infectious diseases can generally be classified by either dietary, or genetic basis, and degenerative or environmental basis. In this essay, specific diseases have to be selected from each category and focus will be given to the factors that lead to the development of disease conditions.


Part 1: Research on Infectious, genetic, degenerative, dietary and environmental disease:

Infectious disease, according to Bloom and Cadarette, (2019), can be defined as an illness caused by a pathogen and its toxic products, which results through the transmission from one infected individual, infected animal, or contaminated inanimate object to a susceptible host. The infectious organisms, through which infectious diseases occurred can be either bacteria, viruses, fungi, Protozoa or parasites. According to Fardin (2020), under normal circumstances, when the immune system of a host is functional, disease symptoms are used to remain in the suppressed stage; but when the immune system is in the compromised stage, the infectious agents used to overwhelm the antibodies of the host cell and cause diseases. Most of the infectious diseases are generally caused by viruses, bacteria, protozoa, fungi, and different parasites (helminths, rickettsia); whereas prion is responsible for slow-onset of neurological disorders like Creutzfeldt-Jakob disorder (Bhimraj et al., 2020).

Main features and one named diseases caused by:

  1. Bacteria: the most notable traits of features of Bacteria as an infectious agent are:
  2. Small size (2 micrometres to 0.5 µm in diameter)- this size allows bacteria to increase the surface area-to-volume ratio, which increases the intake and intracellular distribution of the nutrients (Nicastri et al., 2020). Based on the size and shape, bacteria can be Bacilli or rod-shaped; spirilla or spiral-shaped; or it can be cocci or coccal or sphere shaped.
  3. Unicellular- bacteria is a single cellular prokaryotic cell that follows the binary fission for cell division.
  4. Lack of membrane-bound organelles, and contain circular DNA, the cell wall of peptidoglycan, and flagella.

One of the most common diseases caused by bacteria is Tuberculosis. Bacterial disease can be considered as a communicable disease which transmits from one infected individual or contaminated objects to another host. The most common way of transmission for bacterial infections is through water, food, vectors, air and body fluids. Tuberculosis is one of the common bacterial infections caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis. According to WHO, in 2021, 1.7 million people died due to TB, worldwide and it is the 13th leading cause of death and second leading infectious killing agent after COVID-19 (Hanson et al., 2020). TB is a lung infection and an air-borne disease. M. tuberculosis is an airborne particle with a diameter of 1-5 microns. Infectious nuclei are mixed with air through coughing, and sneezing by an individual who already has pulmonary TB (Khan et al., 2019). Depending on the environment, the airborne particles can remain suspended in the air for several hours and it also transmitted through the air, through the mouth, nasal passage, upper respiratory tract, and bronchi. These tubercle bacilli are ingested through the alveolar macrophages, though the majority of these bacilli used to get inhibited and small numbers are multiplied intracellularly and released within the host body.

Life cycle of Tuberculosis

(Figure 1: Life cycle of Tuberculosis)

TB can occur among any person, though, the risk factor is higher among the people who already have developed TB after getting infected (within a week). As per many researches, 5 out of 10 per cent of the infected individuals who do not acquire any treatment for latent TB infection can develop TB at some times within their livelihood (Bhimraj et al., 2020). If a person gets a close contact with a person with infectious TB, or person who is an immigrant from area where the incidence rate of TB is high- can be infected with this disease. The prevalence rate of this disease is also very high among the people who are homeless, with HIV/AIDS infection, person who work or reside with people in a areas with high risk of TB, like hospitals, homeless shelters, nursing homes, correctional homes. Additionally, people, with either HIV infection, or silicosis, severe kidney disorders, head, or neck cancer, experiencing substance abuse can develop TB. The common physical effect of Tuberculosis is feeling sick or getting weak, weight loss, fever and night sweat. The symptoms of TB in lungs include chest pain, coughing, secretion of blood while coughing. The best-fit treatment of this disease is to do an early lab-test. There are two types of tests available for TB infection: TB Blood test (QuantiFERON-plus and T-spot); TB skin test. BCG is the common vaccine used to treat Tuberculosis. Additionally, there are medications like RIF or Rifampin, Rifapentine or RPT, INH or Isoniazid to treat LTBI or latent TB infection (Horsburgh Jr et al., 2015). Medication for at least 6 to 12 months is one the best way to prevent Tuberculosis.

  1. Protozoa: the general characteristics of Protozoa are:
  2. Habitat: protozoa used to be found in the aquatic environment and most of the protozoa are aerobic and some anaerobic protozoa used to be found in the rumen or human intestine. (Chakaya et al., 2021)
  3. Size and Shape: the size and shape of the protozoa vary from 1 µm to 20 µm (Unicellular foraminifera) (Kamau et al., 2020). The protozoa are lacking rigid cell walls and are flexible. Cells are used to be bounded by the thin plasma membrane, though some of the species have hard membranes at the outer region.
  4. Cell structure: Protozoa are unicellular eukaryotic cells, and are mostly comprised of a single membrane-bound nucleus, which has diffused appearance due to the presence of scattered chromatin.
  5. Nutrition: protozoa are used to follow holozoic and/or heterotropic nutrition and are used to engulf food by phagocytosis process.

Malaria is one of the most common forms of disease caused by Protozoa. Malaria used to be transmitted by Plasmodium falciparum, P. malaria, and P. vivax.  According to WHO malaria is another life-threatening disease which transmits from female anopheles mosquitoes to the human being. In 2021, 250 million of cases of malaria are recorded, globally with an approximate number of death of 620,000. Malaria is only transmitted by the female  Anopheles mosquito when it bites to an infected person (Hartmeyer et al., 2019). During this stage a small amount of the blood is taken which contains the malaria parasite; after 1-week incubation, when the mosquito takes its next blood meal, the parasites used to mix up with saliva and injected into the healthy individual, being bitten. The malaria parasite is used to transmit via blood transfusion and sometimes from mother to unborn infant, which can be termed congenital malaria. Due to its capacity to generate infected red blood cell (RBC) cytoadherence to the vascular endothelium and subsequent end-organ dysfunction, Plasmodium falciparum is primarily responsible for the development of severe malaria. Although it is debatable whether other plasmodium species can cause coma, they can nonetheless produce severe illness and AKI (Di Gennaro et al., G., 2020).

life cycle of Malaria protozoa

(Figure 2: life cycle of Malaria protozoa)

  1. Viruses: one of the most striking features of the virus is, it is an infection-causing agent which has both living and non-living characteristics. Outside of any living cell, the virus used to remain an inactive particle, but within the host cell, it is capable of taking part in cell metabolism for the production of virions. Viruses are smaller than bacteria and it comprises single-stranded and double-stranded nucleic acid which used to be surrounded by a protein membrane, capsid. Viruses also have envelopes composed of protein and lipids. The most common infection or disease caused by the virus is COVID-19. COVID-19 or coronavirus disease is an infectious disease caused by the transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus (Plewes et al., 2019). It is a respiratory syndrome, which can cause life-threatening risks for individuals with an immune compromise stage. COVID-19 is a two-phased disease; phase 1 is the virus propagation for wide expression of CTSB/L, ACE2 genes and other putative and alternative receptors, and phase 2 is related to the host-and sex or age-specific uncontrolled inflammatory immune response, which causes the aggressive inflammation, hyper-cytokinemia and damage of collateral tissues (Ziaei Hezarjaribi et al., 2022). It is assumed that the pathogenesis of COVID-19 is related to the expression of the ARDS gene. Engagement of multiple organs causes the direct damage of targeted cells by the SARS-CoV-2 virus and results from the onset of immune-inflammatory responses.

Transmission and pathogenesis of COVID-19 virus

(Figure 3: Transmission and pathogenesis of COVID-19 virus)

  1. Parasites: parasite can be defined as an organism which lives by depending on another organism or host. The common features of parasites are:
  2. Smaller than the host cell
  3. It can use both invertebrates and vertebrates as their host
  4. Parasites do not kill the host by infecting or harming the host indirectly by increasing the rate of spread of pathogens. This in turn can impact negatively the host's metabolism, reproductive activities and behaviour.
  5. Many parasites have claws and suckers to attach to the host cell. For example, fleas and tapeworms.

One of the most common diseases caused by parasites is Trichomoniasis, which is a sexually transmitted infection. Trichomoniasis is a single cellular protozoan which used to transmit from vector to host cell through genital contacts, like oral or vaginal sex. This parasite is used to infect the lower genital tract and in the case of women, it infects the vagina, vulva, opening of the uterus, and urethra. The parasite used to take 28 days of incubation and cause infection within the host body.

The parasite of the Tv or Trichomonas vaginalis is a sexually transmitted infection. It is an extracellular pathogen, which triggers the adherence of epithelial cells to be colonized within the human host (Kissinger et al., 2022). Additionally, this parasite interacts with the host immune system and vaginal microbiota . The main mode of Tv pathogenesis is to damage the host tissue, disrupt steady-state vaginal microbial ecology and cause inflammation by making the host immune compromise.

Life Cycle of Trichomoniasis

(Figure 4: Life Cycle of Trichomoniasis)

  1. Fungi: the most common characteristics of Fungi are as followed:
  2. It is a eukaryotic, non-motile, non-vascular, and heterotropic pathogen
  3. Fungi can be unicellular or can be filamentous
  4. It reproduces through the formation of spores. It does not have any embryonic stage
  5. Some common examples of fungi moulds, yeasts
  6. Based on their nutrition, fungi can be classified as saprophytic, symbiotic, and parasitic.

The most common disease caused by Fungi is candidiasis, which is particularly caused by Yeast and it mainly occurs on the skin, intestinal tract, and on mucous membranes. Candidiasis used to caused by  Candida albicans, C. parapsilosis, Candiad auris. Candida normally lives on host skin and inside the body, like the gut, vagina, and throat without causing any adverse infection. Though, during the mild change in condition, inside the vagina or within the skin, it encourages the growth of Candida and causes infection. The majority of the time, changes in immune systems, medication, and hormones can trigger the infection rate by candida (McCarty et al., 2021).  C. albicans is considered as a dimorphic fungus which has the ability to trigger the transition to pathogen from commensal and it causes the morphological switch between the yeast and hyphal forms and is considered as the central factor of Candida pathogenesis.

Life Cycle of Candidiasis

(Figure 5: Life Cycle of Candidiasis)

Non-infectious diseases:

  1. Genetic: any Genetic disorders used to cause due to the mutation, which can also be termed as a pathogenic variant. Genes are comprised of DNA and in different genetic conditions, the mutation in chromosomes or DNA can cause changes in genetic coding and give rise to pathogenic disorders. Albinism is one of the common genetic conditions, where the infected individual has very little or no melanin pigments in their skin, and hair. Albinism is an autosomal recessive disorder, which passes directly from unaffected parents to offspring. As per the genetic diagram of Albinism, both parents contain mutational change in DNA sequences in one allele of the gene and cause albinism. The individual comprises with one mutated allele referred to as a carrier (Wright et al., 2020). It passes in the autosomal recessive inheritance pattern, which means that a child must have to occupy two copies of the gene from parents, which causes albinism (one from each parent). If both the parents carry the gene, then there will be one in four chances that the offspring will be albino and one in two chances that the offspring will be the carrier.

As per the genotypic and phenotypic expression, if both the parents carry the gene responsible for albinism, then the chance of being albinism among the offspring will be 1 in 4 or 25%, and the chance of being carrier among the offspring will be 1 in 2 or 50%.

  1. Dietary: the dietary condition in non-infectious or non-communicable diseases refers to unhealthy diets and lack of physical activities. According to Li et al., (2022), in unfavourable dietary conditions, individuals used to suffer from high blood pressure, increased levels of glucose in their blood, and elevated levels of lipid profiles. One of the common examples of non-communicable disorders in dietary conditions is obesity. With respect to the dietary condition, Binge-eating disorder or BED and night-eating syndrome or NES are considered as two forms of eating-associated disorders and linked with obesity. According to the research, individuals with BED are considered to be three to six times more prone to be obese. BED is associated with the early onset of being overweight and 30 per cent of the individual with BED become vulnerable to obesity (childhood) (Aderemi et al., 2021). The factors related to obesity are physical inactivity, sedimentary lifestyle, uncontrolled diet, and gene expression; certain drugs, chemical conditions and certain hormonal conditions can trigger the onset of obesity. In the case of obesity, excess calories used to be stored in adipose tissue as fat. The number of calories varies from person to person, based on age, sex, metabolic rate, and activity level. As per the estimation, the basal metabolic rate of a person – the amount of calories burned while resting can be determined by the amount of lean tissue and measured by the person's total body weight (Chooi et al., 2019). More the amount of physical activities in adipose tissue, the higher the metabolic rate. Additionally, there are some underlying health conditions which contribute to weight gain, for example, an underactive thyroid gland or hypothyroidism.
  2. Degenerative disease: Degenerative disease refers to such disease where the structure and function of affected tissue and organs change with time. Alzheimer's disease can be considered as one of the common examples of degenerative disease. According to Chooi et al., (2019), Alzheimer's disease can also be stated as a degenerative disease of the brain, that causes dementia, which results in the gradual loss of memory, judgmental activities and ability to function. In the majority of cases, Alzheimer caused due to a gene mutation which can be transmitted from parent to offspring. This scenario can be termed as FAD or early-onset of familial Alzheimer’s disease. As per the research, the disorder mainly causes due to the mutation in PSEN1, PSEN2, and APP genes. Alteration in genetic expression in any one of these genes can cause fragmentation of amyloid beta peptide. This peptide is used to produce in the brain and forms clumps which can be termed as amyloid plaques. This formation of amyloid plaques in the brain can be considered as the major cause of the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Some research also suggests that the development of toxic amyloid beta peptides and amyloid plaques leads to the death of brain neurons and nerve tissues which can be considered as the leading sign and symptom of the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Another cause of the early onset of the disease is associated with the alteration in gene expression. Some evidence shows that people with down syndrome are more prone to Alzheimer's disease.

Treatment associated with the Alzheimer is application of some common medication. For example, Galantamine, Rivastigmine, and Cholinesterase inhibitors. Though these medications are being prescribed for people with a mild-to-moderate level of Alzheimer’s. these drugs can provide control on cognitive and behavioral symptoms, and independence to people with the disease for a prolonged time. Currently, Aducanumab is used as a disease-modifying medication to treat this disease at advanced stage (Vaz, M et al., 2022). This medication can be used as an antibody in immunotherapy which can target the protein-beta amyloid and reduce the amyloid plaques- the lesions that are associated with Alzheimer’s. Additionally, care-home supports like Cognitive stimulation therapy or CST can be used to improve the memory and problem-solving skills of people with Alzheimer’s disease. There are Cognitive rehabilitation, treatment can be used to treat this disease which involves professionals, occupational therapists relative, friends to help and support the patients.

  1. Environmental disease: Environmental disease can be defined by any pathologic condition with a distinctive set of signs and symptoms that are harmful to a person's health and are brought on by environmental factors, such as exposure to physical or chemical agents, inadequate nutrition, and social or cultural practice. There are many environmental factors like allergens, pollutants, chemical and other factors which leads to the development of several diseases (Loos and Yeo, 2022). As per many epidemiological studies, a strong relationship can be found between air pollution and the development of asthma and other allergic diseases. The main focus can be given to the inhalation of gaseous materials like O3, NO2, and PMs which are released from cars and industries. DEP or diesels exhausted particulates have the ability to bind with protein and serve as the carrier of allergens that transmit throughout the respiratory tract. According to many environmental studies, allergy caused dues to airborne allergens like dust mites, pollens, and animal dander. Many foods release IgE bounded allergens which cause toxicity within the blood and cause allergic disorders (Kwok et al., 2020). According to the CDC reports, in 2020 8.4% of the people across the world are living with asthma (age group of 18 years and more) and the percentage of incidence of this disorder among the children is 5.8%. According to the global health reports, Asthma is common among female adult, rather than the male adults. Around 10% female adults have asthma, compared to 6.2% of male adults. Additionally, Asthma is consider as one of the leading disorder among the children- currently 4.9 million of children within age of 18 year are living with chronic asthma. Two important components of preventive condition for this disorder are:
  2. Avoid the environmental triggers.
  3. Medically control the symptoms

Part 2: Case studies of the disease progression over time:

  1. Infectious disease:

Name of the infectious disease: Tuberculosis

Analysis of the progressive changes to the structure and function of the body system with the disease process

Tuberculosis or more specifically pulmonary tuberculosis can be considered as the cause of long-term respiratory impairment. According to many research articles, Post-TB lung dysfunction used to be unrecognized, though, this infection can be related to the reduced quality of life. An increased number of population-based studies show that TB can increase the risk of airflow obstruction and COPD(Al-Kindi et al., 2020). More specifically, it can be stated that TB or pulmonary Tuberculosis can cause restrictive ventilatory defects along with the impairment in gas exchange. Airflow defects can detect by spirometry, where the flow and volume of the air exhale and inhaled are to be measured. Impaired gas exchange due to the infection of tuberculosis can be determined by measuring the diffusion capacity of the lungs for carbon monoxide. The progression of tuberculosis for an infected individual can be determined by the observatory factors like the onset of dyspnoea, reduced capacity of exercising, and the onset of chronic and acute bronchitis. The airway obstruction can also be measured by measuring the FEV1 and as per studies, a decline rate of FEV1 can be observed for the individuals affected by tuberculosis (Rothhammer and Quintana, 2019). Population-based studies also show that individuals with the onset of TB and a decline in FEV1 are linked with multiple pathological mechanisms. For example, for patients with FEV1 and TB experience a change in lung structure, and pulmonary function, with distorted airways which leads to airflow obstruction.

Assessment of the physiological effect

The patients with the onset of Tuberculosis used to experience decreased levels of QOF and high-stress levels. Additionally, people with TB used to undergo immense psychological stress, social isolation and discrimination (Natarajan et al., 2020).

Non-infectious disease:Alzheimer’s Disease

Name of the infectious disease

Analysis of the progressive changes to the structure and function of the body system with the disease process

A case scenario of an individual affected by Alzheimer’s disease shows a sudden change in brain structure. As per the examination, it can be seen that the damage appears in the hippocampus and then it extended to the entorhinal cortex, which is the most essential part of forming memories in the brain. This sudden change in the brain can also cause the death of neurons and other additional parts of the brain and the brain started to shrink, as the final stage of Alzheimer’s disease, it was found that the damage used to widespread and the tissues have shrunk significantly (Huang et al., 2020). Mild cognitive impairment is the primary change related to the onset of Alzheimer's disease. The onset of this disease also alters the gene expression which increases the rate of APOE or apolipoprotein E. for an individual with Alzheimer’s disease, APOE ε4 used to increase in volume and also increases the person's risk to the onset of the disorder and it triggers the shrinkage of the brain structure (Dunn et al., 2021). The communication, metabolism, and repair processes that are essential to neurons and their networks are interfered with by Alzheimer's.

Alzheimer's disease often starts by destroying neurons and the connections between them in the entorhinal cortex and hippocampus, two regions of the brain involved in memory. Later, it has an impact on the parts of the cerebral cortex that control language, thought, and social interaction. Eventually, the brain's many other regions suffer harm. A person with Alzheimer's disease gradually loses the ability to live and work independently over time. The illness is ultimately lethal (Huang et al., 2020).

As per research, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, metabolic disease, obesity, cognitive decline, and deterioration in vascular conditions can be linked with the onset of Alzheimer's disease.

Assessment of the physiological effect

Alzheimer’s disease, therefore, is a brain disorder, which can get worse with the progression of the disease and time. This disease can be characterized by the change in brain structure triggered due to the deposition of certain proteins. As discussed earlier, Alzheimer's disease causes the shrinkage of the brain and damage in brain cells, which in turn cause the death of neurons. The most physiological effect related to the disease is dementia, or a gradual decrease in memory, social and cognitive skills, and thinking abilities. These changes can in turn affect the ability to function of the affected individuals. Across the world, 55 million people are affected by this disease (Bhimraj et al., 2020). There is no such treatment related to this disease and at the advanced stage, the infected individuals go through the loss of brain function, malnutrition, dehydration and the complication eventually causes death.


To conclude this essay, it can be stated that disease progression can be defined as the natural history of a disease, and the length of period, the disease used to transmit from an infected individual to a healthy one. In this essay, the focus has been given to infectious as well as non-infectious diseases and the vectors related to the disease progression. This essay is an in-depth analysis of the characteristic features of infectious agents as well as the condition related to the onset of non-communicable disorders. Additionally, in this essay focus has been given to the development of a case scenario based on one infectious disease (tuberculosis) and one non-communicable disease (Alzheimer's disease) with a strong focus on how these two diseases and their progression can alter the physical as well as psychological scenarios of infected individuals.


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