"A number of chronic human illnesses are triggered, either directly or indirectly, by microorganisms," says Ronald Luftig of the Louisiana State University Medical Center, one of the authors of the report, Microbial Triggers of Chronic Human Illness. "Other diseases, including some extremely common and devastating conditions, exhibit characteristics that indicate they may have an infectious etiology as well. Over 90 million Americans live with chronic illnesses, conditions that account for 70 percent of all deaths in the United States. Researching the causes of these chronic illnesses, infectious or otherwise, will lead to the development of therapies, cures and strategies for prevention that will affect the lives of millions of individuals."
Up until the late 20th century, health professionals believed that chronic diseases such as peptic ulcers and cervical cancer were caused in part by lifestyle factors such as diet, stress and exposure to environmental toxins. In the last several decades, researchers have compiled strong evidence that most peptic ulcers are caused by an infection with the bacterium Helicobacter pylori and can be treated with antibiotics. An infection with human papillomavirus (HPV), the cause of genital warts, appears to be the cause of cervical and other cancers.
In addition to H. pylori and HPV, the report lists 30 other microorganisms for which there ex
Contact: Angelo R. Bouselli
American Society for Microbiology