Is there anyother type of biological agent that can cause disease?

  • #1
As we all know, pathogens ( bacteria, viruses, fungi and prions ) cause diseases and illness to their hosts. I am just wondering if there is anyother type of biological agents or phenomena that can cause diseases besides pathogens?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
mgb_phys
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
7,774
13
Would you consider a parasite to be a pathogen?
Is this just a definition question?
 
  • #3
DaveC426913
Gold Member
19,371
2,873
As we all know, pathogens ( bacteria, viruses, fungi and prions ) cause diseases and illness to their hosts. I am just wondering if there is anyother type of biological agents or phenomena that can cause diseases besides pathogens?
Parasites cause rabies? [ EDIT: D'oh! ]
Radiation causes cancer/hemophilia? (not biological but you did say 'other phenomena')
Normal genetic mutation...

I'm not sure fungi cause disease.
 
  • #4
Ygggdrasil
Science Advisor
Insights Author
Gold Member
3,331
3,582
There are also non-infections diseases like genetic disorders (e.g. cystic fibrosis), cancer (although some cancers are caused by viruses), autoimmune diseases (e.g. rheumatoid arthritis), and other diseases (like type 2 diabetes).
 
  • #5
lisab
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
1,887
617
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #6
Andy Resnick
Science Advisor
Education Advisor
Insights Author
7,591
2,239
As we all know, pathogens ( bacteria, viruses, fungi and prions ) cause diseases and illness to their hosts. I am just wondering if there is anyother type of biological agents or phenomena that can cause diseases besides pathogens?

Nobody has mentioned ionophores or uncouplers, but I suppose these are 'chemicals'...
 
  • #7
jim mcnamara
Mentor
4,320
2,957
Asbestos - a naturally occurring mineral causes usually cancers of the lung
Sunlight - UV causes skin melanoma
Clostridium botulinum - bacteria that produces toxin in food -- botulism.

I think this discussion is a simply a matter of defining limits - ie a definition.
See the OSHA list of chemicals
http://www.epa.gov/TRI/trichemicals/OSHA/carcinog.pdf [Broken]

You have to set reasonable limits in the definition. Falling permanently into deep water also causes death - either by hypothermia or drowning. By the same feeble logic snow causes disease and death as well. This is the problem here in this thread.

Too much of almost anything and/or almost anything really out of place is going to cause problems.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #8
arildno
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
Gold Member
Dearly Missed
9,970
134
Does infatuation count as a disease?
 
  • #9
DaveC426913
Gold Member
19,371
2,873
You have to set reasonable limits in the definition.
Well, there was a limit defined that you are ignoring...
Falling permanently into deep water also causes death - either by hypothermia or drowning.
I'm no meat scientist but I'm pretty sure those are not diseases.


However, your point is made. Cancer is a disease, and the things that can cause cancer are almost limitless.
 
  • #10
jim mcnamara
Mentor
4,320
2,957
I was being ridiculous - as you noted. Biology is one of those disciplines where folks a priori definitions fall apart into nonsense rapidly. Except that falling apart delves into absurd faster than impossible, unlike other sciences. IMO.
 
  • #11
418
0
Biology is one of those disciplines where folks a priori definitions fall apart into nonsense rapidly. Except that falling apart delves into absurd faster than impossible, unlike other sciences. IMO.

Hi Jim :smile: I love coming to this website. It's about Science! :biggrin: Thanks for bringing this up and giving me the opportunity to present "The National Association of Biology Teachers" (NABT) Mission Statement.

NABT's Statement on Teaching Evolution

As stated in The American Biology Teacher by the eminent scientist Theodosius Dobzhansky (1973), "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution." This often-quoted declaration accurately reflects the central, unifying role of evolution in biology. The theory of evolution provides a framework that explains both the history of life and the ongoing adaptation of organisms to environmental challenges and changes.

While modern biologists constantly study and deliberate the patterns, mechanisms, and pace of evolution, they agree that all living things share common ancestors. The fossil record and the diversity of extant organisms, combined with modern techniques of molecular biology, taxonomy, and geology, provide exhaustive examples of and powerful evidence for current evolutionary theory. Genetic variation, natural selection, speciation, and extinction are well-established components of modern evolutionary theory. Explanations are constantly modified and refined as warranted by new scientific evidence that accumulates over time, which demonstrates the integrity and validity of the field.

Scientists have firmly established evolution as an important natural process. The nature of science, experimentation, logical analysis, and evidence-based revision based on detectable and measurable data are procedures that clearly differentiate and separate science from other ways of knowing. Explanations or ways of knowing that invoke metaphysical, non-naturalistic or supernatural mechanisms, whether called "creation science," "scientific creationism," "intelligent design theory," "young earth theory," or similar designations, are outside the scope of science and therefore are not part of a valid science curriculum.

The selection of topics covered in a biology curriculum should accurately reflect the principles of biological science. Teaching biology in an effective and scientifically honest manner requires that evolution be taught in a standards-based instructional framework with effective classroom discussions and laboratory experiences.

Adopted by the NABT Board of Directors,1995. Revised 1997, 2000, May 2004, and 2008. Endorsed by: The Society for the Study of Evolution,1998; The American Association of Physical Anthropologists, 1998.

http://www.nabt.org/websites/institution/index.php?p=92 [Broken]

Coming around here makes me extra happy. I think it's a healthy environment. In a healthy environment there's less disease so thinketh me.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #12
Monique
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
4,149
64
I was being ridiculous - as you noted. Biology is one of those disciplines where folks a priori definitions fall apart into nonsense rapidly. Except that falling apart delves into absurd faster than impossible, unlike other sciences. IMO.
What do you mean?
 
  • #13
Borek
Mentor
28,702
3,190
I think he refers to the fact that world of living organisms is so rich, flexible and intertwined, that most definitions that try to classify things and put them in boxes can be ridiculed.

It doesn't mean these definitions are not usefull, but they are never universal.

--
 
  • #14
Ouabache
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
1,340
8
As we all know, pathogens ( bacteria, viruses, fungi and prions ) cause diseases and illness to their hosts. I am just wondering if there is any other type of biological agents or phenomena that can cause diseases besides pathogens?
By definition a biological agent that causes disease in their host IS a pathogen.

The balance of the responses appear to refer to human disease, although pathogens affecting the rest of the animal kingdom may be inferred.

So within the animal kingdom, how many of you were thinking of pathogens http://insectpathogens.com/" [Broken]? Besides the biological agents mentioned, they also develop disease from protozoans and nematodes. Bee keepers are quite interested in pathogens affecting their hives.

How about the plant kingdom? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plant_pathology" [Broken] (plant pathology) is the study of plant disease. Among plant pathogens, biotic agents include: bacteria, viruses, fungi, nematodes, protozoa & parasitic plants. The majority of plant pathogens are fungi.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #15
Monique
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
4,149
64
Some biological phenomena that cause disease: abnormal immune-responses (auto-immune disease, allergies), DNA replication or checkpoint errors (cancer), metabolic stress (aging), germ-line mutations (a whole spectrum of diseases), germ-line chromosome missegregation (syndroms such as Klinefelter or Down-syndrome).

Cells are made up of molecular machines, so if something goes wrong you will end up with a disease.
 

Related Threads on Is there anyother type of biological agent that can cause disease?

Replies
2
Views
4K
Replies
2
Views
1K
Replies
7
Views
2K
Replies
6
Views
2K
Replies
37
Views
23K
Replies
2
Views
3K
Replies
1
Views
2K
Replies
1
Views
631
Top