Okay, so I know that severe, life-threatening illness such as rabies which has a 100% chance of death without treatment and Ebola which has a 50% chance of death would not be allowed because that would lead to a massive die-off, regardless of if the immunity to the ebola virus is passed down to offspring or not.

But obviously death rate alone shouldn't be the only factor. Some illnesses have a low enough death rate but become chronic and/or need complex treatment. TB is a perfect example of this. The death rate is around 16% for those who are diagnosed. Okay so that is way higher than the flu which is around .45% of those diagnosed but it does require complex treatment(multiple antibiotics for months), especially for the drug resistant TB. And even then, it can be a chronic illness with a potential for relapse after antibiotics are stopped.

So TB is no-go. Parasitic illnesses are often severe though maybe a few milder skin and intestinal parasites should be allowed(I specify skin and intestinal because those are more likely to be mild than other parasites like for example Plasmodium spp.).

Fungal I think should be allowed along with most viral illness(chickenpox, cold, flu, gastroenteritis, etc.).

Bacterial is really the area that I don't know whether or not it should be allowed. I mean you've got everything from Group A streptococcus which can cause flesh eating disease, strep throat which is followed by scarlet fever and potentially rheumatic heart disease if untreated, impetigo, and toxic shock syndrome to TB which like I said earlier is an illness that can be chronic and has to be treated with a months long course of antibiotics.

Of course if someone has an illness from prions(which are just misfolded proteins that cause normal proteins to become misfolded) that shouldn't be allowed either regardless of the only transmission being eating food that is infected with the prion.

The reason I think illness should be allowed is simple. To keep the immune system at its prime so that nobody dies from an illness that is mild on the destination planet. Without any illness exposure, 3 things will result. Those are:

  • Autoimmune disease
  • Allergies
  • Weakened immune system which can't handle even a mild viral infection

So when I decide which illnesses are allowed and which aren't, should I take into consideration both transmission and pathogen as well as severity, death rate, and treatment?

Okay, let me clarify why I think illness should be allowed and also why severe illness shouldn't in my opinion be allowed. Yes the people are high in technological progress including medical treatment. But drug resistance is always a threat when treating a bacterial illness. Antibiotics themselves can also lead to illness by killing the good bacteria. So for example, yeast infections are a common side effect of taking antibiotics. The longer the antibiotic treatment, the more likely the bacterial illness is gone but also the more likely someone will get a yeast infection or other illness as a result of the antibiotics. Viral illnesses are typically mild enough to have supportive care be the only treatment needed. Of course there are exceptions such as Ebola, rabies, and HIV. As for fungal infections, again a lot of them are mild and would simply require using an antifungal for x days. And with some intestinal parasites, it isn't any worse than severe diarrhea that goes away in a few weeks. That can be treated with hydration, electrolytes, and anti-diarrheal medication.

So should I allow at least some bacterial illnesses along with viral illness, fungal infection, and a few parasitic illnesses?


closed as unclear what you're asking by Mołot, RonJohn, elemtilas, Vincent, John Apr 1 '18 at 4:20

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    $\begingroup$ “Allowed”... in what? Your story? The Earth? Africa? $\endgroup$ – Dubukay Mar 31 '18 at 22:19
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    $\begingroup$ You can't stop all infectious bacteria and viruses, so your question is moot. $\endgroup$ – RonJohn Mar 31 '18 at 22:23
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    $\begingroup$ I think the question needs clarification. What kind of world are you talking about. What purpose would you have to "allow" viruses? Just to keep the immune system going strong without incapacitating/killing people? The way you talk about it medicine doesnt seem readily available in your world. And what time zone are you in? Its not first of april there already is it...? $\endgroup$ – Demigan Mar 31 '18 at 22:30
  • $\begingroup$ I am in the Eastern time zone of the US or UTC-5. And no it isn't april fools day yet but I didn't plan this to be for april fools day either. And I gave some clarification on why I think viruses, fungi, and a few parasites should be allowed. $\endgroup$ – Caters Mar 31 '18 at 22:48
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    $\begingroup$ What do you mean by allow? As in something legal? $\endgroup$ – Vincent Apr 1 '18 at 0:04

Purposely introducing diseases in this environment is a terrible idea.

My immunity to measles does not mean I'll be immune to anything else I may encounter on an alien planet. In fact alien diseases are unlikely to affect humans, if they do medical experts will need to combat them. You can't rely on the immune system to do so unaided, it doesn't work like that on earth.

Pacific Islanders had functioning immune systems but when Europeans arrived whole communities died from fairly safe to European diseases like measles and the common flu.

  • $\begingroup$ But autoimmune disease, allergies, and a weakened immune system that can't even handle the common cold are way, way worse than a working immune system and illnesses like chickenpox or the common cold. Having illnesses thus keeps the immune system from being too active against the body and makes sure that it will be strong in the case of disease on the new planet. $\endgroup$ – Caters Apr 1 '18 at 1:58
  • $\begingroup$ Plus, unless the genetic material is like very strange like Peptide nucleic acid, the immune system will likely know what to do. 1 or 2 extra strands of DNA or RNA wouldn't be a problem after microdosing(essentially a vaccine with the full blown pathogen) $\endgroup$ – Caters Apr 1 '18 at 2:09
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    $\begingroup$ @caters, whole districts populations DIED, no one left to mourn them, no one to bury the bodes, DEAD, how is something worse then that? I don't follow your logic. $\endgroup$ – Kilisi Apr 1 '18 at 5:28

Allowed... where?

It sounds like you're working on a sci-fi setting where humans are starting to send manned missions to other planets. But how advanced is the medical technology? Can your doctors cure arbitrary infections on a whim, or are they limited to current medical tech, with varyingly-effective antibiotics?

Also, who's doing the allowing? Is your setting's government making a conscious decision to not eradicate certain pathogens, or are you talking on more meta grounds about what sorts of pathogens make for a good setting?

If we're talking about your setting's government, is letting certain diseases not be eradicated really the best way to keep the populace's immune systems from acting up? Many of the diseases you've listed require expensive treatments and carry a significant risk of death. There's really no need to subject your populace to that when there are so many mostly-harmless pathogens out there that can also do the job. I doubt there's really any need to expose them to anything more harmful than the common cold. And if you need to prepare them for a specific, more harmful pathogen, that's why vaccines exist.

Alternatively, if you want your people to grow up in a truly sterile environment but still be able to survive in the outside world, you could resort to genetic engineering. Replicating the functions of all the symbiotic bacteria in and on the human body won't be easy, but with enough time and effort it should be doable. Likewise, programming the immune system to work properly even if not trained on a multitude of weak pathogens is surely possible with a similar amount of effort.


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