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The first link is the pathogen itself. This is the disease-causing


organism. For many illnesses and diseases this is a virus or
bacterium. In order to break this link, various methods can be
used, including the pasteurization of milk, the chlorination of
drinking water, or the use of disinfectants. A pathogen in the
oldest and broadest sense is anything that can produce
disease

Bacteria, like other forms of life, constantly evolve to meet new


environmental challenges. Changes to the ecology of bacteria,
combined with complicated global supply networks, the
consolidation of animal and produce operations, and the
increasing consumption of convenience foods that lack a cook
step before consumption are all examples of the new challenges
facing the control of pathogenic organisms.

Viruses are unique pathogens in that they are not cells but
segments of DNA or RNA encased within a capsid (protein
envelope). They cause disease by infecting cells and
commandeering cell machinery to produce more viruses at a
rapid rate. They counter or avoid immune system detection and
multiply vigorously within their host. Viruses not only infect
animal and plant cells, but also infect bacteria and archaeans.

Fungi are eukaryotic organisms that include yeast and molds.


Disease caused by fungi is rare in humans and typically the
result of a breach of a physical barrier (skin, mucus membrane
lining, etc.) or compromised immune system. Pathogenic fungi
often cause disease by switching from one form.
The second link is the reservoir. This is the natural
environment that the pathogen requires for survival.
Reservoirs can be a person, an animal, or an environmental
component, such as soil or water. This link can be broken
through medical treatment and testing, insect and rodent
eradication, or quarantine.
The third link is the portal of exit. This link is needed for the
pathogen to leave the reservoir. If the reservoir is a human,
then the portal of exit may be saliva, mucous membranes,
feces, blood, or nose or throat discharges. By using barrier
methods, such as condoms or masks, or covering the mouth
while coughing, this link can be broken.
The fourth link is the means of transmission. The pathogen
can be transmitted either directly or indirectly. Direct
transmission requires close association with the infected host,
but not necessarily physical contact. Indirect transmission
requires a vector, such as an animal or insect. The link can be
broken through hand washing, safe sex practices, or avoiding
contact with infected individuals.

Direct contact infections spread when disease-


causing microorganisms pass from the infected
person to the healthy person via direct physical
contact with blood or body fluids. Examples of
direct contact are touching, kissing, sexual
contact, contact with oral secretions, or contact
with body lesions.

Indirect contact infections spread when an


infected person sneezes or coughs, sending
infectious droplets into the air. If healthy people
inhale the infectious droplets, or if the contaminated
droplets land directly in their eyes, nose or mouth,
they risk becoming ill.
Link number five is the portal of entry. Entry
of the pathogen can take place in one of three ways:
penetration, inhalation, or ingestion. The level and severity of
an infection may depend on the depth of penetration. Similar
to the portal of exit, barrier methods, such as condoms or
masks, can be used to break this link along with other
methods, such as insect repellants.
The future host is the person who is next exposed to the
pathogen. The microorganism may spread to another
person but does not develop into an infection if the
person’s immune system can fight it off. They may
however become a ‘carrier’ without symptoms, able to
then be the next ‘mode of transmission’ to another
‘susceptible host’. Once the host is infected, he/she may
become a reservoir for future transmission of the disease
. Human Defences against
Infection
1st line of defence:

 mechanical barriers � skin, mucous


membranes
 body secretions � saliva, sweat, tears,
gastric juices, bile, mucus
 lymphoid tissue
 normal flora

2nd line of defence:

Inflammatory response

Signs and symptoms include:

 localized � redness, heat, swelling,


pain, and impaired function of the body
part
 systemic effects of inflammation:
 fever
 malaise
 leucocytosis, an increase in the number
of circulating white blood cells
(leucocytes)
 lymph node enlargement
 nausea
 vomiting

3rd line of defence:

Immune response

Antibodies (immunoglobulins) are produced


in response to the presence of foreign
proteins (antigens), not usually present in
the body, for example - pathogens.
Immunity is the body�s ability to resist
disease by producing specific anti-bodies
against specific antigens.