Bacterial Diseases in Humans

Section Summary

Some prokaryotes are human pathogens. Devastating diseases and plagues have been among us since early times and remain among the leading causes of death worldwide. Emerging diseases are those rapidly increasing in incidence or geographic range. They can be new or re-emerging diseases (previously under control). Many emerging diseases affecting humans originate in animals (zoonoses), such as brucellosis. A group of re-emerging bacterial diseases recently identified by WHO for monitoring include bubonic plague, diphtheria, and cholera. Foodborne diseases result from the consumption of food contaminated with food, pathogenic bacteria, viruses, or parasites.

Some bacterial infections have been associated with biofilms: Legionnaires’ disease, otitis media, and infection of patients with cystic fibrosis. Biofilms can grow on human tissues, like dental plaque; colonize medical devices; and cause infection or produce foodborne disease by growing on the surfaces of food and food-processing equipment. Biofilms are resistant to most of the methods used to control microbial growth. The excessive use of antibiotics has resulted in a major global problem, since resistant forms of bacteria have been selected over time. A very dangerous strain, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), has wreaked havoc recently across the world.