McNamara, Peter J. Department of Medical Microbiology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin.
Last reviewed:April 2018
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- Pathogenic microorganisms
- Infectious disease transmission
- Contact spread
- Airborne spread
- Common-vehicle spread
- Vector-borne spread
- Pathogenesis of infection
- Response to infection
- Infectious disease control
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
A pathological condition spread among all biological species. Infectious diseases are caused by a pathogen that invades and then grows and multiplies in the body of an organism. Infectious diseases, although varied in their effects, are always associated with viruses (Fig. 1), bacteria, fungi, protozoa, multicellular parasites, and aberrant proteins known as prions. A complex series of steps, mediated by factors contributed by both the infectious agent and the host, is required for microorganisms or prions to establish an infection or disease. Worldwide, infectious diseases are one of the leading causes of human death. See also: Bacteria; Disease; Epidemiology; Fungi; Infection; Medical bacteriology; Medicine; Parasitology; Pathogen; Prion disease; Protozoa; Public health; Virus
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