An infection is the detrimental colonization of a host organism by a foreign species.
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An infection is, in effect, a war in which the infecting organism seeks to utilize the host’s resources in order to multiply at the expense of the host. The infecting organism, or pathogen, interferes with the normal functioning and perhaps the survival of the host. Colloquially, a pathogen is usually considered a microscopic organism though the definition is broader, including bacterta, parasites, fungi and viruses. The branch of medicine that focuses on infections and pathogens is Infectious Disease

All humans are colonized to some degree by external organisms, and the vast majority of these exist in a symbiotic relationship with the host. An example of the former would be the bacteria species which colonize mammals, an example of the latter would be the various species 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 normally non-pathogenic can become pathogenic under the right conditions, and even the most virulent organism requires certain circumstances to cause a compromising infection.

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

Other sources of information for these topics.

Directory of factsheets covering common infections affecting children.

MedlinePlus: Infections Topics
Ehrlichiosis see Tick Bites; Epstein-Barr Virus Infections see Infectious Mononucleosis ... RSV Infections see Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections ...

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