Examine The Role Of The Physical Environment With Reference To One Specific Disease

1639 words - 7 pages

Geography is `the study of man and land and the interrelations of time and space'. The physical aspect of geography is the natural environment. This includes climate, relief, terrain and precipitation. When studying physical geography human geography will also be concerned as the two are intrinsically linked. To research the role of the physical environment in relation to the spread of one specific disease leprosy has been chosen. Leprosy is particularly interesting because 130 years after the bacillus was discovered it is still not known exactly how either of the two forms of the disease is spread. Lepromatous leprosy causes skin lesions and infections of the respiratory tract and tuberculoid leprosy principally affects the nerves resulting in loss of feeling and damage.

For the main case studies, Africa, South Asia and South America will be researched as there is an estimated 730,000 cases in these areas alone. Eastern Sudan will also be studied as there are two tribes with different leprosy rate but who live in the same physical environment.

Leprosy seems to be prominent in those countries with a hot, dry climate in the low latitudes. This implies that the physical environment does have a big effect upon the spread of the disease.

Leprosy is a disease of an insidious nature with a slow onset. The disease is ultimately progressive and patients usually die from secondary infections, in some cases spontaneous recovery may occur. Infection can arise from prolonged and intimate contact between persons. The number of leprosy cases has decreased in recent years but there are still approximately 800,000 cases there are registered worldwide.

Africa, South - East Asia and South America have had the highest leprosy rates for fifteen years. Although the leprosy rate has decreased since 1985, these three continents contain 729,861 of 752,417 registered leprosy cases.

Africa South Asia South America

Climate Tropical wet, tropical wet and dry, semiarid, desert, subtropical dry, humid subtropical, humid oceanic, highland Tropical wet, tropical wet and dry, semiarid, desert, subtropical dry, humid subtropical, humid oceanic, highland Tropical wet, tropical wet and dry, semiarid, desert, subtropical dry, humid subtropical, humid oceanic, highland

Temperature Highest (Sahara) 122 F Highest (inland) above 115 F Highest (Argentina) 110 F

Seasons Variations between summer and winter temperatures slight April - October long hot summer

November - March mild winter December - March summer

June to late November winter

Rainfall Very uneven, some places receive none whereas others receive up to 100cm in a month Very uneven, some places receive none but November to March is monsoon season Very uneven, some places receive more than 890cm in a year but North Chile is one of the driest places on Earth

Africa, South America and South Asia all have fairly similar environments; they are all hot, have varying relief and rainfall. They...

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