How the strep bacterium hides from the immune system

A bacterial pathogen that causes strep throat and other illnesses cloaks itself in fragments of red blood cells to evade detection by the host immune system, according to a study publishing December 3 in the journal Cell ...

Using pathogen-specific viruses to control pathogen outbreaks

Researchers from the Utrecht University, in collaboration with colleagues at the University of York (UK) and the Nanjing Agricultural University (China) have developed a new technology to selectively destroy the pathogen ...

Magnesium deprivation stops pathogen growth

When pathogens invade cells, our body combats them using various methods. Researchers at the University of Basel's Biozentrum have now been able to show how a cellular pump keeps such invading pathogens in check. As the researchers ...

Dozens of potential new antibiotics discovered with free online app

A new web tool speeds the discovery of drugs to kill Gram-negative bacteria, which are responsible for the overwhelming majority of antibiotic-resistant infections and deaths. The tool also offers insights into discrete chemical ...

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Pathogen

A pathogen (from Greek πάθος path "suffering, passion", and γἰγνομαι (γεν-) gignomai (gen-) "I give birth to"), infectious agent, or (more commonly) germ, is a biological agent that causes disease or illness to its host. There are several substrates and pathways whereby pathogens can invade a host; the principal pathways have different episodic time frames, but soil contamination has the longest or most persistent potential for harboring a pathogen.

The body contains many natural defenses against some of the common pathogens (such as Pneumocystis) in the form of the human immune system and by some "helpful" bacteria present in the human body's normal flora. However, if the immune system or "good" bacteria is damaged in any way (such as by chemotherapy, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), or antibiotics being taken to kill other pathogens), pathogenic bacteria that were being held at bay can proliferate and cause harm to the host. Such cases are called opportunistic infection.

Some pathogens (such as the bacterium Yersinia pestis, which may have caused the Black Plague, the Variola virus, and the Maleria protozoa) have been responsible for massive numbers of casualties and have had numerous effects on afflicted groups. Of particular note in modern times is HIV, which is known to have infected several million humans globally, along with the Influenza virus. Today, while many medical advances have been made to safeguard against infection by pathogens, through the use of vaccination, antibiotics, and fungicide, pathogens continue to threaten human life. Social advances such as food safety, hygiene, and water treatment have reduced the threat from some pathogens.

Not all pathogens are negative. In entomology, pathogens are one of the "Three P's" (predators, pathogens, and parasitoids) that serve as natural or introduced biological controls to suppress arthropod pest populations.

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