Infection Pathogen Discussion
In this discussion you will take a look at the various types of pathogens that cause infections and disease of the urogenital, digestive, and circulatory system. Chapter 23, 24 and 25 of your Openstax text book covers these pathogens to help you get an idea of what type of organism you need to research. You also need to find an article on the disease / pathogen that is current (no more than 5 years ago
In biology, a pathogen (Greek: πάθος, pathos “suffering”, “passion” and -γενής, -genēs “producer of”) in the oldest and broadest sense, is any organism that can produce disease. A pathogen may also be referred to as an infectious agent, or simply a germ.
The term pathogen came into use in the 1880s. Typically, the term is used to describe an infectious microorganism or agent, such as a virus, bacterium, protozoan, prion, viroid, or fungus. Small animals, such as certain worms or insects, can also cause or transmit disease. However, these animals are usually, in common parlance, referred to as parasites rather than pathogens. The scientific study of microscopic organisms, including microscopic pathogenic organisms, is called microbiology, while parasitology refers to the scientific study of parasites and the organisms that host them.
There are several pathways through which pathogens can invade a host. The principal pathways have different episodic time frames, but soil has the longest or most persistent potential for harboring a pathogen.
Diseases in humans that are caused by infectious agents are known as pathogenic diseases. Not all diseases are caused by pathogens, other causes are, for example, toxins, genetic disorders and the host’s own immune system.
Pathogenicity is the potential disease-causing capacity of pathogens. Pathogenicity is related to virulence in meaning, but some authorities have come to distinguish it as a qualitative term, whereas the latter is quantitative. By this standard, an organism may be said to be pathogenic or non-pathogenic in a particular context, but not “more pathogenic” than another. Such comparisons are described instead in terms of relative virulence. Pathogenicity is also distinct from the transmissibility of a virus, which quantifies the risk of infection.
A pathogen may be described in terms of its ability to produce toxins, enter tissue, colonize, hijack nutrients, and its ability to immunosuppress the host.
It is common to speak of an entire species of bacteria as pathogenic when it is identified as the cause of a disease (cf. Koch’s postulates). However, the modern view is that pathogenicity depends on the microbial ecosystem as a whole. A bacterium may participate in opportunistic infections in immunocompromised hosts, acquire virulence factors by plasmid infection, become transferred to a different site within the host, or respond to changes in the overall numbers of other bacteria present. For example, infection of mesenteric lymph glands of mice with Yersinia can clear the way for continuing infection of these sites by Lactobacillus, possibly by a mechanism of “immunological scarring”.
Virulence (the tendency of a pathogen to reduce a host’s fitness) evolves when a pathogen can spread from a diseased host, despite the host becoming debilitated. Horizontal transmission occurs between hosts of the same species, in contrast to vertical transmission, which tends to evolve toward symbiosis (after a period of high morbidity and mortality in the population) by linking the pathogen’s evolutionary success to the evolutionary success of the host organism. Evolutionary biology proposes that many pathogens evolve an optimal virulence at which the fitness gained by increased replication rates is balanced by trade-offs in reduced transmission, but the exact mechanisms underlying these relationships remain controversial.
Main article: Transmission (medicine)
Transmission of pathogens occurs through many different routes, including airborne, direct or indirect contact, sexual contact, through blood, breast milk, or other body fluids, and through the fecal-oral route.