Infection


Infection

An infection is the detrimental colonization of a host organism by a foreign species. In an infection, the infecting organism seeks to utilize the host's resources to multiply (usually at the expense of the host). The infecting organism, or pathogen, interferes with the normal functioning of the host and can lead to chronic wounds, gangrene, loss of an infected limb, and even death. The host's response to infection is inflammation. Colloquially, a pathogen is usually considered a microscopic organism though the definition is broader, including feces, parasites, fungi, viruses, prions, and viroids. A symbiosis between parasite and host, whereby the relationship is beneficial for the former but detrimental to the latter, is characterised as parasitism. The branch of medicine that focuses on infections and pathogens is infectious disease.

A secondary infection is an infection that occurs during or following treatment of another already existing primary infection.

Colonization

Wound colonization refers to nonreplicating microorganisms within the wound, while in infected wounds replicating organisms exist and tissue is injured. All multicellular organisms are colonized to some degree by extrinsic organisms, and the vast majority of these exist in either a mutualistic or commensal relationship with the host. An example of the former would be the anaerobic bacteria species which colonize the mammalian colon, and an example of the latter would be the various species of staphylococcus which exist on human skin. Neither of these colonizations would be considered infections. The difference between an infection and a colonization is often only a matter of circumstance. Organisms which are non-pathogenic can become pathogenic under the right conditions, and even the most virulent organism requires certain circumstances to cause a compromising infection. Some colonizing bacteria, such as "Corynebacteria sp." and "viridans streptococci", prevent the adhesion and colonization of pathogenic bacteria and thus have a symbiotic relationship with the host, preventing infection and speeding wound healing.

The variables involved in the outcome of a host becoming inoculated by a pathogen and the ultimate outcome include:

* the route of entry of the pathogen and the access to host regions that it gains
* the intrinsic virulence of the particular organism
* the quantity or load of the initial inoculant
* the immune status of the host being colonized

As an example, the staphylococcus species present on skin remain harmless on the skin, but, when present in a normally sterile space, such as in the capsule of a joint or the peritoneum, will multiply without resistance and create a huge burden on the host.

Occult infection

An occult infection is medical terminology for a "hidden" infection, that is, one which presents no symptoms. Dr. Fran Giampietro discovered this type, and coined the term "occult infection" in the late 1930s.

Bacterial or viral

Bacterial and viral infections can both cause similar symptoms such as malaise, fever, and chills. It can be difficult, even for a doctor to distinguish which is the cause of a specific infection. [http://www.antibiotics-info.org/bact02.asp Bacterial vs. Viral Infections -Do You Know the Difference?] National Information Program on Antibiotics] It's important to distinguish, because viral infections cannot be cured by antibiotics.

ee also

* Antiseptic
* List of infectious diseases
* Infectious diseases
* Staphylococcus aureus
* Ubi pus, ibi evacua (Latin: "where there is pus, there evacuate it")
* Routes of infections

References

* [http://www.vrc.nih.gov Vaccine Research Center] Information concerning vaccine research clinical trials for Emerging and re-Emerging Infectious Diseases.
* [http://www.aboutinfections.com aboutinfections.com]


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • INFECTION — Les maladies infectieuses, dites également maladies transmissibles, diffèrent des autres affections en ce que leur naissance requiert absolument la pénétration dans l’organisme hôte d’un agent infectant vivant. La spécificité de celui ci apparaît …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Infection — In*fec tion, n. [Cf. F. infection, L. infectio a dyeing.] [1913 Webster] 1. The act or process of infecting. [1913 Webster] There was a strict order against coming to those pits, and that was only to prevent infection. De Foe. [1913 Webster] 2.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • infection — Infection. sub. f. Grande puanteur. Cet esgoust là est la plus grande infection. il en sort une si estrange infection. infection insupportable. Il signifie aussi, Corruption contagieuse. L Infection des corps morts mit la peste dans cette ville …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • infection — [in fek′shən] n. [ME infeccioun < OFr infection < LL infectio] 1. an infecting; specif., a) the act of causing to become diseased b) the act of affecting with one s feelings or beliefs 2. the fact or state of being infected, esp. by the… …   English World dictionary

  • Infection — (v. lat.), Ansteckung …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Infection — Infection, lat. deutsch, in der Medicin die Erkrankung durch ein Miasma, vergl. Ansteckung …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • infection — index contaminate, disease Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • infection — late 14c., infectious disease; contaminated condition; from O.Fr. infeccion contamination, poisoning (13c.) and dir. from L.L. infectionem (nom. infectio), noun of action from pp. stem of L. inficere (see INFECT (Cf. infect)). Meaning… …   Etymology dictionary

  • infection — [n] contamination bug*, communicability, contagion, contagiousness, corruption, defilement, disease, epidemic, flu, germs, impurity, insanitation, poison, pollution, septicity, virus, what’s going around*; concepts 230,306 Ant. sanitation,… …   New thesaurus

  • infection — ► NOUN 1) the process of infecting or the state of being infected. 2) an infectious disease …   English terms dictionary

  • infection — noun ADJECTIVE ▪ nasty, serious, severe ▪ mild, minor, moderate ▪ acute, chronic ▪ …   Collocations dictionary


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