Pathogen: Candida albicans aka Yeast
Category of Pathogen: Fungal
Name of disease caused by pathogen: Thrush, which is also called Candidiasis.
Symptoms of infection: Most common early onset symptoms include but are not limited to the following: Slightly raised, creamy white lesions in the mouth, on the tongue and inner cheeks. May also observe lesions on the roof of the mouth, the gums, the tonsils, or even the back of the throat.
These lesions may have a cottage cheese like appearance and can be painful or even cause bleeding if the lesions are either scraped or brushed. For possible symptoms of more severe infection, please visit this link: http://www.virtualmedicalcentre.com/diseases.asp?did=837#Symptoms
Primary host: Human
Other hosts: Other animals such as dogs, cats, horses and many others can host yeast infections.
Route of transmission: Depending on where the infection occurs, Thrush can be transmitted by any number of methods. Sexual intercourse with an individual that is infected can cause the infection to spread to the non-infected participant. According to Wikipedia, “External use of detergents or douches or internal disturbances (hormonal or physiological) can perturb the normal vaginal flora, consisting of lactic acid bacteria, such as lactobacilli, and result in an overgrowth of Candida cells causing symptoms of infection, such as local inflammation.”
However, Candida is a fungus that is regularly present in all people, and resides in many tissues of the body such as the mouth, skin and digestive tract. This fungus is normally controlled by other naturally occurring microorganisms in the body and infection can arise as a result of taking antibiotics, which may kill these microorganisms and allow the Candida fungus to grow out of control.
Prevalence: According to www.virtualmedicalcentre.com, some 75% of Women in Australia will suffer from Candida infection and nearly half of all women worldwide will be affected by the age of 25. It has also been suggested that over 90% of HIV patients that are not receiving therapy are infected. Although Candidiasis is more likely to affect the immunocomprimised, some 30-55% of healthy young adults are affected within their lifetimes. Also, it is said that some 25-50% of healthy young women carry the fungus in the genital tract.
Generation Time: Candida albicans is considered a fast growing yeast and shows generation time of over 1 hour under test conditions.
Mortality Rate: Usually only the immunocomprimised are affected by the life-threatening infections of Candida fungus but as high as 70% of individuals infected at this level will die. This usually depends on the underlying condition and the location of the infection within the body.
Morbidity Rate: High morbidity rate; can infect any tissue throughout the body. Is able to get into the blood and be carried to any tissue, which even includes the meninges (the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord).
Is it preventable? How?: Yes, infection caused by the Candida fungus can be prevented.
- Practice Good Oral Hygiene
- Visit your Dentist regularly
- Avoid mouthwashes and sprays
- Limit sugar and yeast intake
- Quit smoking
Does the disease trigger long lasting immunity?: No, because this disease is the result of a fungal infection, it will continue to haunt you so long as you provide it with the proper conditions. Remember that fungi are opportunistic organisms!
When was the pathogen first described and is there evidence that it was around much earlier than that?: According to Wiki, “The genus Candida and speciesC. albicans was described by botanist Christine Marie Berkhout in her doctoral thesis at the University of Utrecht in 1923.” However, as this disease is related to hygiene, one could imagine that not only has it been a prevalent problem long before 1928, but that it has also been much worse in the past!
What is the economic impact of the disease?: Candida infections are linked to severely prolonged hospital stays which consume not only the money of the patient, their insurance companies and tax payers but also consume the time and resources of hospitals and their employees.
The coolest thing about Thrush: The most amazing thing about Thrush is that it can affect any tissue in the entire body and that it can be so easy to become infected, it is the most common type of fungal infection in humans.
Candidiasis. (2010, September 1). Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Candidiasis
Candidiasis (thrush, yeast infection). (2010, July 28). Retrieved from http://www.virtualmedicalcentre.com/diseases.asp?did=837#What_is
Dental health and thrush. (2010, September 1). Retrieved from http://www.medicinenet.com/thrush/article.htm
Dental health and thrush. (2010, September 1). Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/dental-health-thrush