So It’s been more than a week since I started asking people two questions… And here are some answers…
1. What is the Most Common Genetic Disorder?
The Most common disorder in humans was an interesting question. It’s a question that most people who live in western nations get wrong because of the accessibility of treatment. It is a condition that is often “fetishised” and many people have taken to wearing the treatment prescription as a fashion statement.
To suffer from it has traditionally been a sign of weakness. Peter Parker’s Spider Bite cures it. Superman claims to have this problem when he hides as Clark Kent. To have it is a mark of “nerdiness” because of an old issue with the disease (Modern methods of detection do not require patient interaction. But prior to this it was highly subjective…) where if left untreated would cause children to become introvert, anti-social and read more books and generally lose early coordination development. The clumsy nerd stereotype is nothing without the humble spectacles… Glasses.
The disease of Myopia is genetic. It is the most common genetic disorder in the world. It’s just that glasses are cheap and readily available so most of us don’t realise how bad this issue is. However to many people this is a disease. And it is one of the major causes of correctable vision loss.
2. How do Shoes Save Lives?
A lot of people say “cuts” and “tetanus”. You have to remember that most people throughout history have not worn shoes. Our doggies don’t wear shoes and manage just fine. Our cats really cannot wear shoes, not without being incredibly pissed off, confused and very clumsy.
To realise it we have to realise that sometimes you are killed in little ways. Why is hookworm so bad? We have plenty of things living inside with little to no ill effect? What’s wrong with a few hookworms? What’s wrong with ascarias? The two of these are the biggest parasites of human beings…
Hookworms are pretty tiny, between 5 – 11 mm… Ascaris is however a pretty big worm. They can reach between 15 to 30 cm in length (they can infect humans in some stages through contact with feet because we keep touching our feet and can easily bring the eggs into the house and infect tonnes of people. They aren’t as pro-active as hookworms which actively burrow through the skin on your feet…).
The hook worm and round worm consume blood. Unlike the tapeworm which just eats food they actively require blood. Now each one may not drink that much blood per day but they drink a sizeable amount… If you combine that with the already low dietary iron of indians (Western standards of anaemia aren’t used because the Indian average lies well inside the anaemic band) and vegetarian diets in particular you create a massive tax on the RBC production resulting in increased anaemia. A lot of people in India seem to have intractable anaemia that improves after a bout of amoebic dysentery because the drug used kills the worms too. In fact a single high dose of albendazole is often given with regularity to kill any infestation.
A complex solution is the proper disposal of human faeces. A simple one is the usage of shoes.
Oh and both hook worm and ascaris can kill you. Inflammation of the lung leading to exudate and pneumothorax. One of the things they can do is do something similar to what Ed suffered from (In India that’s what our go to diagnosis for fluid of unknown aetiology) is. That’s because the worms enter the blood as larva and pop out through the lungs, crawl up and are swallowed. Ascaris especially is prone to being sneezed out. Oh and sometimes you discover the worm the hard way (It’s why stool samples are always taken.). When you do surgery without rhythm (and with general anaesthesia) you attract the worm which comes boiling out of the mouth because the general anaesthesia irritates them.
In chronic and severe infestations ascaris can cause the knotting of the small intestine and obstruct it causing gangrene and bowel rupture leading to peritonitis and death.
These are diseases that we have made extinct, or not a problem any more so we don’t realise how difficult life is for people who don’t have these two things we consider basic. If you want to see what people face? Just do the glasses thing. Take them off… Walk around and think how weird your life would be without such a fashion item that is necessary. Then think about the people across the globe who never ever get the chance to get one. It is estimated that 70% of India would not be able to afford one. Around similar figures for Africa.
It’s why people like Orbis are so important. If you wish to put an atheist spin on it they cure more blind people than Jesus. Jesus may have washed the feet of his apostles but you can protect the lives of people through the simple gift of shoes.