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Infectious Diseases back

Infectious diseases are caused by micro-organisms that enter and reproduce in the body. This causes damage to the body tissues and causes the symptoms of the disease. Modern medicine has devised many treatments to help cure infectious diseases.
The record of human suffering and death caused by smallpox,taj injection cholera, typhus, dysentery, malaria, etc. establishes the eminence of the infectious diseases. Despite the outstanding successes in control afforded by improved sanitation, immunization, and antimicrobial therapy, the infectious diseases continue to be a common and significant problem of modern medicine. The most common disease of mankind, the common cold, is an infectious disease, as is the feared modern disease AIDS. Some chronic neurological diseases that were thought formerly to be degenerative diseases have proven to be infectious. There is little doubt that the future will continue to reveal the infectious diseases as major medical problems.

In the study and care of patients with infectious disease, physicians use some terms that are not easy to define precisely. A definition of infection as growth of a microorganism in an animal with any resulting host response will include essentially all of the infectious diseases of humans. Many of the body surfaces of humans that communicate with the external environment (e.g., the skin and the gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts) support a normal flora, but these microorganisms usually do not invade and cause disease. Under the right circumstances, however, elements of the flora can invade and produce an infection.

A number of other terms are commonly used in describing thetajhuman body infectious diseases. Pathology refers to the abnormality induced by an infection, and pathogenesis to the events producing the pathology. A pathogenic microorganism is a microbe that can cause pathology. Disease refers to the existence of pathology and an infectious disease is a disease caused by a microorganism. Virulence is a term referring to the power of a microbe to produce disease in a particular host. For example, a microorganism may be avirulent for a normal host and highly virulent for an immunosuppressed host. Immunity refers to the degree of resistance of the host for a particular microbe. Finally, it must be appreciated that the occurrence of an infectious disease in a human is a dynamic process that represents a host-parasite interaction. The parasite attempts to multiply and the host defenses seek to control this effort. The task of the physician is to recognize that such a process accounts for the patient's problem and to intervene for the benefit of the patient.

The infectious diseases are usually characterized by the dominant organ system involved. This classification is useful as a guide in approaching patients. For example, patients do not present complaining of pneumococcal pneumonia; patients present complaining of fever, cough, and chest pain. The physician localizes the disease to the chest (respiratory infection) and then proceeds to develop data proving the presence of a pneumonia caused by the pneumococcus. Thus, we classify infections as respiratory infections, gastrointestinal infections, genitourinary infections, nervous system infections, skin and soft tissue infections, bone and joint infections, cardiovascular infections, and generalized (disseminated) infections. The chapters in this section are organized according to this scheme. The section is intended primarily to help the student begin to integrate the knowledge of microbiology and immunology into a framework useful for the practice of medicine. The diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of the infectious diseases is a stimulating and gratifying process.
Disclaimer - The contents of this site are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of a qualified physician for any doubts. 
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