Chapter 1 : Infectious Causes of Chronic Disease: from Hypothesis to Proof

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The initial proof of an infectious organism’s causal link to a chronic disease often meets resistance to acceptance and requires several years of research by various teams of researchers to isolate the organism, develop a reliable clinical test, and document the association of the organism with human disease through clinical studies. Thus, identifying the “best practices” behind successful medical documentation of infectious etiologies of chronic disease will help streamline and, it is hoped, expedite the success of the process. In fact, there is more than passive resistance to studies of possible infectious causes of chronic disease. Infectious diseases are often clinically identified based on characteristic signs of acute infection, although clearly noninfectious diseases can closely mimic the signs of infectious diseases (e.g., allergic drug reactions). Some researchers who have proposed connecting a new infectious agent to a chronic disease have taken the drastic step of testing the final proof of Koch’s postulates on themselves, including inducing ulcers by swallowing or self-inducing (fatal) yellow fever through exposure to infected mosquitoes to test a vector hypothesis. The combination of creative, novel thinking and essential but-not-very-glamorous rigorous diagnostic test development (e.g., assay validation and standards) makes the pursuit of infectious etiologies for chronic diseases an exciting yet challenging pursuit.

Citation: Carbone K. 2009. Infectious Causes of Chronic Disease: from Hypothesis to Proof, p 1-8. In Fratamico P, Smith J, Brogden K (ed), Sequelae and Long-Term Consequences of Infectious Diseases. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555815486.ch1
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Table 1.

Studies of economic burdens of chronic diseases in the United States

Citation: Carbone K. 2009. Infectious Causes of Chronic Disease: from Hypothesis to Proof, p 1-8. In Fratamico P, Smith J, Brogden K (ed), Sequelae and Long-Term Consequences of Infectious Diseases. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555815486.ch1

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