Examine the Role of the Physical Environment with Reference to One Specific Disease

Examine the Role of the Physical Environment with Reference to One Specific Disease

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Geography is `the study of man and land and the interrelations of time and space'. The physical aspect of geography is the natural environment. This includes climate, relief, terrain and precipitation. When studying physical geography human geography will also be concerned as the two are intrinsically linked. To research the role of the physical environment in relation to the spread of one specific disease leprosy has been chosen. Leprosy is particularly interesting because 130 years after the bacillus was discovered it is still not known exactly how either of the two forms of the disease is spread. Lepromatous leprosy causes skin lesions and infections of the respiratory tract and tuberculoid leprosy principally affects the nerves resulting in loss of feeling and damage.

For the main case studies, Africa, South Asia and South America will be researched as there is an estimated 730,000 cases in these areas alone. Eastern Sudan will also be studied as there are two tribes with different leprosy rate but who live in the same physical environment.

Leprosy seems to be prominent in those countries with a hot, dry climate in the low latitudes. This implies that the physical environment does have a big effect upon the spread of the disease.

Leprosy is a disease of an insidious nature with a slow onset. The disease is ultimately progressive and patients usually die from secondary infections, in some cases spontaneous recovery may occur. Infection can arise from prolonged and intimate contact between persons. The number of leprosy cases has decreased in recent years but there are still approximately 800,000 cases there are registered worldwide.

Africa, South - East Asia and South America have had the highest leprosy rates fo...

... middle of paper ...

...s diet. This means that countries with a low GNP and a particular physical environment are much more prone to leprosy than those without. This is shown by the Africa, South Asia and South America case studies. The case study of the two tribes in Sudan and their differing leprosy rates show that leprosy is controlled by methods of simple hygiene or normal methods of cleanliness.

The fact that leprosy used to be common worldwide but is now just centered in the tropics where poor living standards exist suggests that it is a disease of filth and low living standards and that with the advance of civilization, the availability of soap and water and the elimination of overcrowding, leprosy would disappear.

The exact mode of transmission has been unknown for 130 years and is still unknown. This is because leprosy is the most complex of all the human bacterial diseases.

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