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Infectious Disease

Junior Science
• Infectious diseases are caused by
microscopic germs (such as bacteria or
viruses) that get into the body and cause
• Some (but not all) infectious diseases spread
directly from one person to another.
• Infectious diseases that spread from person
to person are said to be contagious.
Infectious Diseases - Definitions

• Disease – a pathological condition of body parts or tissues

characterized by an identifiable group of signs and symptoms.
• Infectious disease – disease caused by an infectious agent
such as a bacterium, virus, protozoan, or fungus that can be
passed on to others.
• Infection – occurs when an infectious agent enters the body
and begins to reproduce; may or may not lead to disease.
• Pathogen – an infectious agent that causes disease.
• Host – an organism infected by another organism.
• Virulence – the relative ability of an agent to cause rapid and
severe disease in a host.
Escalation levels for Contagious Diseases

• Outbreak - occurrence of cases of disease in

excess of what would normally be expected in
a defined community, geographical area or
season, lasting days or years
• Epidemic - disease affects a greater number
people than is usual for the locality or one that
spreads to areas not usually associated with
the disease.
• Pandemic - epidemic of world-wide
Sources of Disease

• Genetic
• Biological
• Physical
• Chemical
Infectious Disease Agents

• Most infectious agents that cause

disease are microscopic in size and
thus, are called microbes or
• Different groups of agents that
cause disease are:
– Bacteria
– Viruses
– Protozoa (Protists)
– Fungi
– Helminths (invertebrate Animals)
How Infectious Agents Cause Disease
They can-:
• Produce poisons, such as toxins and enzymes,
that destroy cells and tissues. (Bacteria can produce
toxins and enzymes that damage or destroy tissue)
• Directly invade and destroy the host cells.
(malaria parasite destroys human red blood cells)
• Trigger responses from the host’s immune
system leading to disease signs and symptoms.
(Flu virus causes sneezing, coughing vomiting)
Transmission of Infectious Diseases

• Agents that cause infectious

diseases can be transmitted in many
– Through the air
– Through contaminated food or
– Through body fluids
– By direct contact with
contaminated objects
– By animal vectors such as
insects, birds, bats, etc.
• The sources of infection include – genetic,
biological, physical and chemical.
• Biological Infectious disease are spread by
bacteria, viruses, fungus or parasites.
• They can be spread by several means
including water, air, direct contact or vectors
(animals and insects)
• In a host they cause build up of toxins,
destroy cells or provoke an immune response
• Disease can be classified by duration, location
or timing