Glossary >


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Pathogens are microorganisms that can cause diseases in humans, animals, and plants. They are typically classified into four groups: bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. Pathogens can enter the body through various routes, such as through the mouth, nose, eyes, or breaks in the skin.

Bacteria are single-celled organisms that can cause a wide range of diseases, including strep throat, tuberculosis, and pneumonia. Some bacteria are harmless or even beneficial, while others can be deadly.

Viruses are tiny infectious agents that can cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as HIV/AIDS, Ebola, and COVID-19. Viruses cannot replicate on their own and require a host cell to reproduce.

Fungi are organisms that can cause infections such as ringworm, athlete's foot, and thrush. Fungal infections are often treated with antifungal medications.

Parasites are organisms that live on or inside other organisms and can cause diseases such as malaria, lice infestations, and intestinal infections.

Pathogens can be transmitted through various means, such as through the air, contaminated food or water, or through contact with infected individuals or objects. Preventive measures such as hand hygiene, vaccination, and proper food handling can help reduce the spread of pathogens.

Diagnosis and treatment of infections caused by pathogens often involves laboratory testing, such as blood tests, culture tests, or imaging. Treatment may involve medications such as antibiotics, antivirals, or antifungals, or other interventions such as surgery or immunotherapy.

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  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Pathogens and Human Disease. Retrieved from
  • World Health Organization. (2020). Pathogens. Retrieved from