The Most Common Ways Pathogens Invade the Body

According to data, deaths due to coronavirus across 66 regions in Italy, Spain, France, and Germany, 78% occurred in five of the most polluted areas

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A pathogen is an organism that causes a disease in its host. Infections caused by pathogens often produce severe symptoms. All a pathogen needs to sustain and survive is a host. Once a pathogen finds a host, it manages to avoid its immune responses and uses the hosts’ resources to replicate before exiting and spreading to more hosts. There are different types of pathogens a few that are quite common are viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites. Some diseases in the past that were caused by the pathogens include- Plague, Smallpox, Ebola, Hantavirus. 


Let’s talk about how pathogens enter the body? They enter the body in 3 ways- through direct contact, through indirect contact & the air. By sanitizing and using other protective measures, people prevent pathogens from entering their bodies through the first two ways. But they should also protect themselves from airborne pathogens. Scientists in the United States have shown that viruses can survive in the air as droplets and remain infectious for up to 3 hours. Gravity, deposits virus’s on surfaces, from there people may unknowingly pick them up and infect themselves when they touch their mouth, nose, or eyes. According to medical experts, natural oxygen-enriched air is needed for the patient care settings including in the treatment of COVID-19. So, one way people can protect themselves from COVID-19 is by living in an oxygen-rich environment in which they breathe fresh air.

People spend about 90% of their lives indoors, where pollution can be 100 times what it is outside, and 92 per cent of people live where air pollution levels exceed the WHO’s recommendations. People can keep themselves safe through source control. Viruses (pathogens) and air pollution have a few things in common - both spread through the air, are invisible, and adversely impact our health. However, viruses and pathogens are different in size. According to research, high air pollution may be contributing to deaths from Covid-19. According to data, deaths due to coronavirus across 66 regions in Italy, Spain, France, and Germany, 78% occurred in five of the most polluted areas. Other data shows that in places where there was more pollution before the pandemic, Covid-19 deaths were higher. Studies show a positive correlation between air pollution and COVID 19 mortality rates. There are two ways to tackle this problem- shield yourself or eliminate pathogens. But, as mentioned above, source control and air sanitation are the most critical steps.

According to a research team, led by Xiao Wu and Rachel Nethery at the Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health, an increase of just one microgram per cubic metre of PM 2.5 corresponded to a 15% increase in Covid-19 deaths. So, to be safe from viruses, it’s essential to clean the air. Very few people know the impact of relative humidity on a virus’s life. Humidity plays a crucial part in the transmission of viruses like influenza and coronavirus. Since the level of relative humidity is low during the winter; indoor air is drier resulting in increased infection rates.  What is the reason for this? The answer is that dry ambient air that has a relative humidity less than 20% causes tiny droplets that are loaded with flu or cold viruses to dry up. When they dry up they shrink. Hence the germs' ability to survive indoors is increased as is the droplets propensity to float. In such conditions, germs can survive for up to 41 hours. So, many scientific studies advise maintaining a relative humidity (RH) between 40–60%. At this optimal range, viruses, bacteria, and fungi grow the least. Inside buildings with this humidity factor, people are safest from pathogens.    

In conclusion, the authorities’ efforts to keep the public safe are praiseworthy. Still, people must find a solution to a post-corona world. Recently, Arvind Kejriwal was quoted to have said, “We must live with corona keeping the economy and conditions of daily wage workers in mind". His words highlight the need for the public to protect itself post lockdown. Air sanitizers will play a significant role in keeping the public safe.