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Thread: Do species have to co-evolve to catch each other's diseases?

  1. #1
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    Do species have to co-evolve to catch each other's diseases?

    From first contacts with indigenous peoples we know even the most innocent disease can become a deadly epidemic. The reason is that during pre-medical times natural evolution favours individuals with resistant genes, so people susceptible to such disease get removed from a population. Yet, the survivors still carry the pathogens...

    Still, genetic familiarity is a factor. After all, besides some feared and consequential examples, inter-species epidemics are rare. And chances are that even to those diseases, some people with resistant genes exist.

    So, what is your take on disease risk between alien sapients?
    As each evolved in an unrelated biosphere and most likely have little to none DNA similarity with us, should we better dress up in a quarantine-suit, or could we just walk out to handshake them paws and pincers?

  2. #2
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    Ignoring aliens for the moment we know bacteria evolve far faster than we do so a new strain can overwhelm our immune system. That becomes dose related so that a small number of invading bacteria allow us to form antibodies, often for life. viruses are different and some of the deadly invasions were for measles which can be fatal for unexposed populations. The plague was a bacterium co hosted in rats and carried by fleas. Some villages were 100% wiped out. Retruning to aliens, a new virus could be deadly but needs close contact to commnicate., usually!
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by gufghur View Post
    So, what is your take on disease risk between alien sapients?
    As each evolved in an unrelated biosphere and most likely have little to none DNA similarity with us, should we better dress up in a quarantine-suit, or could we just walk out to handshake them paws and pincers?
    As Carl Sagan once said: "You have a better chance of mating with a Petunia than with an alien."

    Same thing would go for viruses. They require our DNA to work. And the chances of alien building blocks being compatible with our own are astronomically small (though we might share enzymes).

    But I see no reason why bacteria and other parasites couldn't cross between aliens and humans. All they really need are some of the basic elements: water, some simple carbs, some oxygen, etc.
    If aliens are CHON like us, they'll have those in abundance.

    It's not like they have to bond with our DNA to make us sick. All they need to do is eat, grow, and secrete their toxic wastes.
    Last edited by DaveC426913; 2019-Feb-08 at 04:14 AM.

  4. #4
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    Jan 2014
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    Okay guys,

    Thanks for clarifying this. It appears once more I held myself on the naive side of reality...

    I love the Carl Sagan quote, by the way.

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