Breathing pure air is a challenging task in the present scenario as air is being polluted by various factors. Vehicular emissions and industrial emissions are the major source of air pollution contributing to the increased amount of carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, volatile organic compounds, noxious gases and other suspended particles in the air. Apart from these physical and chemical pollutants there is microbial flora present in the air. Acromonium, Ascospores, Basidiospores, Cladosporium, Epicocum, Penicillium, Smut spores, Stachybotrys are examples of some of the reported microbes present in the air identified through air sampling. Let us see examples of some of the common, transmissible and airborne bacterial, viral and fungal diseases, treatment and prevention methods.
Airborne Bacterial Diseases
1.Whooping cough: Caused by Bordetella pertussis, a gram negative, aerobic, coccobacillus bacterium. The disease is prevented by vaccines like DTaP (childhood vaccination) and Tdap (booster dose in adulthood). The symptoms of the disease are managed with antibiotics.
2.Meningitis: Caused by Gram negative, diplococcus bacteria, Neisseria meningitidis. A person acquires this bacterium by kissing infected person and inhaling the air containing this infectious agent. This bacterium infects the protective layer of the affected individual’s brain and causes inflammation. MCV4 and MPSV4 are the vaccines available.
3.Diphtheria: Caused by corynebacterium diphtheria, a Gram positive, facultative anaerobic bacterium. Antibiotics like Metronidazole, procaine penicillin G and erythromycin are used to manage the symptoms and it is prevented with the help of the DPT vaccine.
4.Pneumonia: This is condition of inflammation of the lungs caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae (Gram positive, alpha hemolytic). Pneumococcal vaccine which is pneumococcal polysaccharide and conjugated bacteria is used to prevent the disease.
5.Tuberculosis: Bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis targets the lungs on entering the human body and causes tuberculosis. The infected individual is given antibiotics like isoniazid, rifampicin based on the symptoms and the disease can be prevented with BCG (Bacillus Calmette-Guerin) vaccine.
Airborne Viral Diseases
1.Chickenpox: The virus of the herpes virus species called as Varicella zoster virus is the microbe responsible for chickenpox. Involuntary actions like coughing and sneezing by an infected person release this virus into air and a person inhaling the air gets infected. Varicella vaccine, Zostavax is the preventive tool.
2.Influenza: Caused by Influenza viruses of the group RNA viruses under the family Orthomyxoviridae. A person gets infected either by being present near an affected person or through contact with droppings of birds as this virus is infectious to both birds and mammals. Trivalent Influenza Vaccine (TIV) shot prevent the infection and drugs like Tamiflu is prescribed to the infected person.
3.Measles: Enveloped, single stranded negative sense RNA virus called as Paramyxovirus belonging to the genus Morbillivirus causes Measles and the disease is prevented with a shot of MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) vaccine.
4.SARS: This is a type of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome caused by infection with the SARS corona virus and its pathogenicity is seen in birds as well as mammals. Identifying and isolating the infected person is the best way to prevent SARS. Supplementing oxygen, providing ventilation and administering antipyretics drugs to the infected person are the practiced methods in managing the disease.
Airborne Fungal Diseases
1.Aspergillosis: Fungal species of the genus Aspergillus seem to be present both in the outdoor and indoor environment is responsible for the disease Aspergillosis and individual with weakened immune system is more prone to this pathogen. This fungus targets the lungs and also known to develop some allergic reaction.
2.Cryptococcosis: The fungal spores of the genus Cryptococcus, the Cryptococcus neoformans present in air is responsible for lung infection and may also affect the brain by causing inflammation.
Thus the above discussed pathogens and the types of disease caused by them makes clear that infectious agents not only spread through contaminated water and spoiled food but also through the omnipresent air and people with weak immune system becomes the first victims of these diseases.