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A disease is an abnormal condition affecting the body of an organism. It is often
construed to be a medical condition associated with specific symptoms and signs. It
may be caused by external factors,
such as infectious disease, or it may be caused by internal dysfunctions, such as
autoimmune diseases. In humans, "disease" is often used more broadly to refer to
any condition that causes pain, dysfunction, distress, social problems, or death to
the person afflicted, or similar problems for those in contact with the person. In this
broader sense, it sometimes includes injuries, disabilities, disorders, syndromes,
infections, isolated symptoms, deviant behaviors, and atypical variations of
structure and function, while in other contexts and for other purposes these may be
considered distinguishable categories. Diseases usually affect people not only

physically, but also emotionally, as contracting and living with many diseases can
alter one's perspective on life, and their personality.
Death due to disease is called death by natural causes. There are four main types
of disease: pathogenic disease, deficiency disease, hereditary disease, and
physiological disease.
Diseases can also be classified as communicable and non-communicable disease.

In many cases, the terms disease, disorder, morbidity and illness are used
interchangeably. In some situations, specific terms are considered preferable.

The term disease broadly refers to any condition that impairs normal function, and
is therefore associated with dysfunction of normal homeostasis. Commonly, term
disease is used to refer specifically to infectious diseases, which are clinically
evident diseases that result from the presence of pathogenic microbial agents,
including viruses, bacteria, fungi, protozoa, multicellular organisms, and aberrant
proteins known as prions. An infection that does not and will not produce clinically
evident impairment of normal functioning, such as the presence of the normal
bacteria and yeasts in the gut, is not considered a disease; by contrast, an infection
that is asymptomatic during its incubation period, but expected to produce
symptoms later, is usually considered a disease. Non-infectious diseases are all
other diseases, including most forms of cancer, heart disease, and genetic disease.

Illness and sickness are generally used as synonyms for disease. However,
this term is occasionally used to refer specifically to the patient's personal
experience of their disease. In this model, it is possible for a person to be
diseased without being ill (to have an objectively definable, but
asymptomatic, medical condition), and to be ill without being diseased (such
as when a person perceives a normal experience as a medical condition, or
medicalizes a non-disease situation in his or her life). Illness is often not due
to infection but a collection of evolved responses, sickness behavior, by the
body which aids the clearing of infection. Such aspects of illness can include
lethargy, depression, anorexia, sleepiness, hyperalgesia, and inability to

In medicine, a disorder is a functional abnormality or disturbance. Medical disorders
can be categorized into mental disorders, physical disorders, genetic disorders,
emotional and behavioral disorders, and functional disorders. The term disorder is
often considered more value-neutral and less stigmatizing than the terms disease

or illness, and therefore is preferred terminology in some circumstances. In mental

health, the term mental disorder is used as a way of acknowledging the complex
interaction of biological, social, and psychological factors in psychiatric conditions.
However, the term disorder is also used in many other areas of medicine, primarily
to identify physical disorders that are not caused by infectious organisms, such as
metabolic disorders.

Medical condition
A medical condition is a broad term that includes all diseases and disorders. While
the term medical condition generally includes mental illnesses, in some contexts
the term is used specifically to denote any illness, injury, or disease except for
mental illnesses. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM),
the widely used psychiatric manual that defines all mental disorders, uses the term
general medical condition to refer to all diseases, illnesses, and injuries except for
mental disorders. This usage is also commonly seen in the psychiatric literature.
Some health insurance policies also define a medical condition as any illness, injury,
or disease except for psychiatric illnesses.
As it is more value-neutral than terms like disease, the term medical condition is
sometimes preferred by people with health issues that they do not consider to be
deleterious. On the other hand, by emphasizing the medical nature of the condition,
this term is sometimes rejected, such as by proponents of the autism rights
The term medical condition is also used as a synonym for medical state, in which
case it describes an individual patient's current state, as seen from a medical
standpoint. This usage is seen in statements that describe a patient as being "in
critical condition", for example.

Morbidity (from Latin morbidus, meaning "sick, unhealthy") is a diseased state,
disability, or poor health due to any cause. The term may be used to refer to the
existence of any form of disease, or to the degree that the health condition affects
the patient. Among severely ill patients, the level of morbidity is often measured by
ICU scoring systems. Comorbidity is the simultaneous presence of two or more
medical conditions, such as schizophrenia and substance abuse.
In epidemiology and actuarial science, the term morbidity rate can refer to either
the incidence rate, or the prevalence of a disease or medical condition. This
measure of sickness is contrasted with the mortality rate of a condition, which is the
proportion of people dying during a given time interval.


A syndrome is the association of several medical signs, symptoms, and or other

characteristics that often occur together. Some syndromes, such as Down
syndrome, have only one cause; others, such as Parkinsonian syndrome, have
multiple possible causes. In other cases, the cause of the syndrome is unknown. A
familiar syndrome name often continues to be used even after an underlying cause
has been found, or when there are a number of different possible primary causes.

Predisease is a type of disease creep or medicalization in which currently healthy
people with risk factors for disease, but no evidence of actual disease, are told that
they are sick. Prediabetes and prehypertension are common examples. Labeling a
healthy person with predisease can result in overtreatment, such as taking drugs
that only help people with severe disease, or in useful preventive measures, such
as motivating the person to get a healthful amount of physical exercise.


Infectious diseases
Contagious diseases
Communicable diseases
Non-communicable diseases


Airborne diseases


Lifestyle disease

Infectious disease
Classification and external resources

A false-colored electron micrograph shows a malaria

sporozoite migrating through the midgut epithelia.

Infectious diseases, also known as transmissible diseases or communicable

diseases comprise clinically evident illness (i.e., characteristic medical signs and/or
symptoms of disease) resulting from the infection, presence and growth of
pathogenic biological agents in an individual host organism. In certain cases,
infectious diseases may be asymptomatic for much or even all of their course in a
given host. In the latter case, the disease may only be defined as a "disease" (which
by definition means an illness) in hosts who secondarily become ill after contact
with an asymptomatic carrier. An infection is not synonymous with an infectious
disease, as some infections do not cause illness in a host.
Infectious pathogens include some viruses, bacteria, fungi, protozoa, multicellular
parasites, and aberrant proteins known as prions. These pathogens are the cause of
disease epidemics, in the sense that without the pathogen, no infectious epidemic
The term infectivity describes the ability of an organism to enter, survive and
multiply in the host, while the infectiousness of a disease indicates the comparative
ease with which the disease is transmitted to other hosts. Transmission of pathogen
can occur in various ways including physical contact, contaminated food, body
fluids, objects, airborne inhalation, or through vector organisms.
Infectious diseases are sometimes called "contagious" when they are easily
transmitted by contact with an ill person or their secretions (e.g., influenza). Thus, a
contagious disease is a subset of infectious disease that is especially infective or
easily transmitted. Other types of infectious/transmissible/communicable diseases
with more specialized routes of infection, such as vector transmission or sexual
transmission, are usually not regarded as "contagious," and often do not require
medical isolation (sometimes loosely called quarantine) of victims. However, this

specialized connotation of the word "contagious" and "contagious disease" (easy

transmissibility) is not always respected in popular use

Among the almost infinite varieties of microorganisms, relatively few cause disease
in otherwise healthy individuals. Infectious disease results from the interplay
between those few pathogens and the defenses of the hosts they infect. The
appearance and severity of disease resulting from any pathogen depends upon the
ability of that pathogen to damage the host as well as the ability of the host to
resist the pathogen. Clinicians therefore classify infectious microorganisms or
microbes according to the status of host defenses - either as primary pathogens or
as opportunistic pathogens:
Primary pathogens cause disease as a result of their presence or activity within the
normal, healthy host, and their intrinsic virulence (the severity of the disease they
cause) is, in part, a necessary consequence of their need to reproduce and spread.
Many of the most common primary pathogens of humans only infect humans,
however many serious diseases are caused by organisms acquired from the
environment or which infect non-human hosts.
Organisms which cause an infectious disease in a host with depressed resistance
are classified as opportunistic pathogens. Opportunistic disease may be caused by
microbes that are ordinarily in contact with the host, such as pathogenic bacteria or
fungi in the gastrointestinal or the upper respiratory tract, and they may also result
from (otherwise innocuous) microbes acquired from other hosts (as in Clostridium
difficile colitis) or from the environment as a result of traumatic introduction (as in
surgical wound infections or compound fractures). An opportunistic disease requires
impairment of host defenses, which may occur as a result of genetic defects (such
as Chronic granulomatous disease), exposure to antimicrobial drugs or
immunosuppressive chemicals (as might occur following poisoning or cancer
chemotherapy), exposure to ionizing radiation, or as a result of an infectious
disease with immunosuppressive activity (such as with measles, malaria or HIV
disease). Primary pathogens may also cause more severe disease in a host with
depressed resistance than would normally occur in an immunosufficient host.[1]
One way of proving that a given disease is "infectious", is to satisfy Koch's
postulates (first proposed by Robert Koch), which demands that the infectious agent
be identified only in patients and not in healthy controls, and that patients who
contract the agent also develop the disease. These postulates were first used in the
discovery that Mycobacteria species cause tuberculosis. Koch's postulates can not
be met ethically for many human diseases because they require experimental
infection of a healthy individual with a pathogen produced as a pure culture. Often,

even diseases that are quite clearly infectious do not meet the infectious criteria.
For example, Treponema pallidum, the causative spirochete of syphilis, cannot be
cultured in vitro - however the organism can be cultured in rabbit testes. It is less
clear that a pure culture comes from an animal source serving as host than it is
when derived from microbes derived from plate culture. Epidemiology is another
important tool used to study disease in a population. For infectious diseases it helps
to determine if a disease outbreak is sporadic (occasional occurrence), endemic
(regular cases often occurring in a region), epidemic (an unusually high number of
cases in a region), or pandemic (a global epidemic).


Washing one's hands, a form of hygiene, is the most effective way to prevent the
spread of infectious disease.
An infectious disease is transmitted from some source. Defining the means of
transmission plays an important part in understanding the biology of an infectious
agent, and in addressing the disease it causes. Transmission may occur through
several different mechanisms. Respiratory diseases and meningitis are commonly
acquired by contact with aerosolized droplets, spread by sneezing, coughing,
talking, kissing or even singing. Gastrointestinal diseases are often acquired by
ingesting contaminated food and water. Sexually transmitted diseases are acquired
through contact with bodily fluids, generally as a result of sexual activity. Some
infectious agents may be spread as a result of contact with a contaminated,
inanimate object (known as a fomite), such as a coin passed from one person to
another, while other diseases penetrate the skin directly.
Transmission of infectious diseases may also involve a vector. Vectors may be
mechanical or biological. A mechanical vector picks up an infectious agent on the
outside of its body and transmits it in a passive manner. An example of a
mechanical vector is a housefly, which lands on cow dung, contaminating its

appendages with bacteria from the feces, and then lands on food prior to
consumption. The pathogen never enters the body of the fly.

Culex mosquitos (Culex quinquefasciatus shown) are biological vectors that

transmit West Nile Virus.
In contrast, biological vectors harbor pathogens within their bodies and deliver
pathogens to new hosts in an active manner, usually a bite. Biological vectors are
often responsible for serious blood-borne diseases, such as malaria, viral
encephalitis, Chagas disease, Lyme disease and African sleeping sickness.
Biological vectors are usually, though not exclusively, arthropods, such as
mosquitoes, ticks, fleas and lice. Vectors are often required in the life cycle of a
pathogen. A common strategy used to control vector borne infectious diseases is to
interrupt the life cycle of a pathogen by killing the vector.
The relationship between virulence and transmission is complex, and has important
consequences for the long term evolution of a pathogen. Since it takes many
generations for a microbe and a new host species to co-evolve, an emerging
pathogen may hit its earliest victims especially hard. It is usually in the first wave of
a new disease that death rates are highest. If a disease is rapidly fatal, the host
may die before the microbe can get passed along to another host. However, this
cost may be overwhelmed by the short term benefit of higher infectiousness if
transmission is linked to virulence, as it is for instance in the case of cholera (the
explosive diarrhea aids the bacterium in finding new hosts) or many respiratory
infections (sneezing and coughing create infectious aerosols).

One of the ways to prevent or slow down the transmission of infectious diseases is
to recognize the different characteristics of various diseases. Some critical disease
characteristics that should be evaluated include virulence, distance traveled by
victims, and level of contagiousness. The human strains of Ebola virus, for example,
incapacitate its victims extremely quickly and kills them soon after. As a result, the
victims of this disease do not have the opportunity to travel very far from the initial
infection zone. Also, this virus must spread through skin lesions or permeable
membranes such as the eye. Thus, the initial stage of Ebola is not very contagious
since its victims experience only internal hemorrhaging. As a result of the above

features, the spread of Ebola is very rapid and usually stays within a relatively
confined geographical area. In contrast, the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
kills its victims very slowly by attacking their immune systemAs a result, many of its
victims transmit the virus to other individuals before even realizing that they are
carrying the disease. Also, the relatively low virulence allows its victims to travel
long distances, increasing the likelihood of an epidemic.
Another effective way to decrease the transmission rate of infectious diseases is to
recognize the effects of small-world networks. In epidemics, there are often
extensive interactions within hubs or groups of infected individuals and other
interactions within discrete hubs of susceptible individuals. Despite the low
interaction between discrete hubs, the disease can jump to and spread in a
susceptible hub via a single or few interactions with an infected hub. Thus, infection
rates in small-world networks can be reduced somewhat if interactions between
individuals within infected hubs are eliminated (Figure 1). However, infection rates
can be drastically reduced if the main focus is on the prevention of transmission
jumps between hubs. The use of needle exchange programs in areas with a high
density of drug users with HIV is an example of the successful implementation of
this treatment method. Another example is the use of ring culling or vaccination of
potentially susceptible livestock in adjacent farms to prevent the spread of the footand-mouth virus in 2001.
General methods to prevent transmission of pathogens may include disinfection
and pest control

A non-communicable disease, or NCD, is a medical condition or disease which by
definition is non-infectious and non-transmissible among people. NCDs may be
chronic diseases of long duration and slow progression, or they may result in more
rapid death such as some types of sudden stroke. They include autoimmune
diseases, heart disease, stroke, many cancers, asthma, diabetes, chronic kidney
disease, osteoporosis, Alzheimer's disease, cataracts, and more. While sometimes
(incorrectly) referred to as synonymous with "chronic diseases", NCDs are
distinguished only by their non-infectious cause, not necessarily by their duration.
Some chronic diseases of long duration, such as HIV/AIDS, are caused by
transmissible infections. Chronic diseases require chronic care management as do
all diseases that are slow to develop and of long duration.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reports NCDs to be by far the leading cause
of mortality in the world, representing over 60% of all deaths. Out of the 36 million

people who died from NCDs in 2005, half were under age 70 and half were women.
Of the 57 million global deaths in 2008, 36 million were due to NCDs. That is
approximately 63% of total deaths worldwide. Risk factors such as a person's
background, lifestyle and environment are known to increase the likelihood of
certain NCDs. Every year, at least 5 million people die because of tobacco use and
about 2.8 million die from being overweight. High cholesterol accounts for roughly
2.6 million deaths and 7.5 million die because of high blood pressure. By 2030,
deaths due to chronic NCDs are expected to increase to 52 million per year while
deaths caused by infectious diseases, maternal and perinatal conditions and
nutritional deficiencies are expected to decline by 7 million per year during the
same period.

Causes and risk factors

Risk factors such as a person's background; lifestyle and environment are known to
increase the likelihood of certain non-communicable diseases. They include age,
sex, genetics, exposure to air pollution, and behaviours such as smoking, unhealthy
diet and physical inactivity which can lead to hypertension and obesity, in turn
leading to increased risk of many NCDs. Most NCDs are considered preventable
because they are caused by modifiable risk factors.
The WHO's World Health Report 2002 identified five important risk factors for noncommunicable disease in the top ten leading risks to health. These are raised blood
pressure, raised cholesterol, tobacco use, alcohol consumption, and overweight
Other factors associated with higher risk of NCDs include a person's economic and
social conditions, also known as the "social determinants of health."
It has been estimated that if the primary risk factors were eliminated, 80% of the
cases of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes and 40% of cancers could be
prevented. Interventions targeting the main risk factors could have a significant
impact on reducing the burden of disease worldwide. Efforts focused on better diet
and increased physical activity have been shown to control the prevalence of NCDs.

Environmental diseases
NCDs include many environmental diseases, covering a broad category of avoidable
and unavoidable human health conditions caused by external factors, such as
sunlight, nutrition, pollution, and lifestyle choices. The diseases of affluence are
non-infectious diseases with environmental causes. Examples include:
Many types of cardiovascular disease (CVD)
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) caused by smoking tobacco

Diabetes mellitus type 2

Lower back pain caused by too little exercise
Malnutrition caused by too little food, or eating the wrong kinds of food
Skin cancer caused by radiation from the sun

Inherited diseases
Genetic disorders are caused by errors in genetic information that produce diseases
in the affected people. The origin of these genetic errors can be:
Spontaneous errors or mutations to the genome:
A change in chromosome numbers, such as Down syndrome.
A defect in a gene caused by mutation, such as Cystic fibrosis.
An increase in the amount of genetic information, such as Chimerism or
Cystic fibrosis is an example of an inherited disease that is caused by a mutation on
a gene. The faulty gene impairs the normal movement of sodium chloride in and
out of cells, which causes the mucus-secreting organs to produce abnormally thick
mucus. The gene is recessive, meaning that a person must have two copies of the
faulty gene for them to develop the disease. Cystic fibrosis affects the respiratory,
digestive and reproductive systems, as well as the sweat glands. The mucus
secreted is very thick and blocks passageways in the lungs and digestive tracts.
This mucus causes problems with breathing and with the digestion and absorption
of nutrients.
Inherited genetic errors from parents:
Dominant genetic diseases, such as Huntingtons, require the inheritance of one
erroneous gene to be expressed.
Recessive genetic diseases, such as TaySachs, require the inheritance of two
erroneous genes to be expressed

Some common Diseases


Viral disease

Structural characteristics
Basic structural characteristics, such as genome type, virion shape and replication
site, generally share the same features among virus species within the same family.
There are currently 21 families of viruses known to cause disease in humans.
There are five double stranded DNA families: three are non enveloped
(Adenoviruses, Papillomavirus and Polyomavirus) and two are enveloped
(Herpesvirus and Poxvirus). All the non enveloped families have icosahedral
There is one family of partly double stranded DNA viruses: the Hepadnaviridae.
These viruses are enveloped.
There is one family of single stranded DNA viruses that infect humans: the
Parvoviridae. These viruses are non enveloped.
There are seven positive single stranded RNA families: three non enveloped
(Astrovirus, Calicivirus and Picornavirus) and four enveloped (Coronovirus,
Flavivirus, Retrovirus and Togavirus). All the non enveloped families have
icosahedral nucleocapsids.
There are six negative single stranded RNA families: Arenavirus, Bunyavirus,
Filovirus, Orthomyxovirus, Paramyxovirus and Rhabdovirus. All are enveloped with
helical nucleocapsids.
There is one family with a double stranded RNA genome: the Reoviridae.
There are two additional viruses (Hepatitis D and Hepatitis E) which have not yet
been assigned to a family but are clearly distinct from the other families infecting
There is one family and one genus of viruses known to infect humans that have not
been associated with disease: the family Anelloviridae and the genus Dependovirus.
Both of these taxa are non enveloped single stranded DNA viruses.

Useful rules of thumb

Among the human infecting families there are a number of rules that may assist
physicians and medical microbiologists/virologists.
As a rule DNA viruses replicate within the nucleus while RNA viruses replicate within
the cytoplasm. Exceptions are known to this rule: poxviruses (DNA viruses)
replicate within the cytoplasm and orthomyxoviruses and hepatitis D virus (RNA
viruses) replicate within the nucleus.

Four families have segmented genomes: Bunyavirus, Orthomyxovirus, Arenavirus

and Reovirus (acronym BOAR). All are RNA viruses.
Three families are transmitted by arthropods: Bunyavirus, Flavivirus and Togavirus.
All are RNA viruses.


Common cold
Common cold
Classification and external resources

A representation of the molecular surface of one variant of

human rhinovirus.

The common cold (also known as nasopharyngitis, rhinopharyngitis, acute coryza,

or a cold) is a viral infectious disease of the upper respiratory tract which affects
primarily the nose. Symptoms include coughing, sore throat, runny nose, and fever
which usually resolve in seven to ten days, with some symptoms lasting up to three
weeks. Well over 200 viruses are implicated in the cause of the common cold; the
rhinoviruses are the most common.
Upper respiratory tract infections are loosely divided by the areas they affect, with
the common cold primarily affecting the nose, the throat (pharyngitis), and the
sinuses (sinusitis). Symptoms are mostly due to the body's immune response to the
infection rather than to tissue destruction by the viruses themselves. The primary
method of prevention is by hand washing with some evidence to support the
effectiveness of wearing face masks.

No cure for the common cold exists, but the symptoms can be treated. It is the
most frequent infectious disease in humans with the average adult contracting two
to three colds a year and the average child contracting between six and twelve.
These infections have been with humanity since antiquity

Signs and symptoms

The typical symptoms of a cold include cough, runny nose, nasal congestion and a sore throat,
sometimes accompanied by muscle ache, fatigue, headache, and loss of appetite A sore throat is
present in about 40% of the cases and a cough in about 50%, while muscle ache occurs in about
half. In adults, a fever is generally not present but it is common in infants and young children
The cough is usually mild compared to that accompanying influenza. While a cough and a fever
indicate a higher likelihood of influenza in adults, a great deal of similarity exists between these
two conditions A number of the viruses that cause the common cold may also result in
asymptomatic infections. The color of the sputum or nasal secretion may vary from clear to
yellow to green and does not predict the class of agent causing the infection.

A cold usually begins with fatigue, a feeling of being chilled, sneezing and a
headache, followed in a couple of days by a runny nose and cough. Symptoms may
begin within 16 hours of exposure and typically peak two to four days after onset.
They usually resolve in seven to ten days but some can last for up to three weeks.
In children, the cough lasts for more than ten days in 3540% of the cases and
continues for more than 25 days in 10%.


Coronaviruses are a group of viruses known for causing the common cold. They
have a halo, or crown-like (corona) appearance when viewed under an electron
The common cold is a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract. The most
commonly implicated virus is a rhinovirus (3080%), a type of picornavirus with 99
known serotypes. Others include: coronavirus (1015%), human parainfluenza
viruses, human respiratory syncytial virus, adenoviruses, enteroviruses, and
metapneumovirus. Frequently more than one virus is present. In total over 200
different viral types are associated with colds.

The common cold virus is typically transmitted via airborne droplets (aerosols),
direct contact with infected nasal secretions, or fomites (contaminated objects).
Which of these routes is of primary importance has not been determined. The
viruses may survive for prolonged periods in the environment and can be picked up
by people's hands and subsequently carried to their eyes or nose where infection
occurs. Transmission is common in daycare and at school due to the close proximity
of many children with little immunity and frequently poor hygiene These infections
are then brought home to other members of the family. There is no evidence that
recirculated air during commercial flight is a method of transmission. However,
people sitting in close proximity appear at greater risk. Rhinovirus-caused colds are
most infectious during the first three days of symptoms; they are much less
infectious afterwards.

The traditional folk theory is that a cold can be "caught" by prolonged exposure to
cold weather such as rain or winter conditions, which is how the disease got its
name. The role of body cooling as a risk factor for the common cold is controversial.
Some of the viruses that cause the common colds are seasonal, occurring more
frequently during cold or wet weather. Some believe this to be due primarily to
increased time spent indoors in close proximity; specifically children returning to
school. However, it may also be related to changes in the respiratory system that
result in greater susceptibility. Low humidity increases viral transmission rates
potentially due to dry air allowing small viral droplets to disperse farther and stay in
the air longer.

Classification and external resources

TEM of negatively stained influenza virions, magnified ap

proximately 100,000



Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is an infectious disease of birds and
mammals caused by RNA viruses of the family Orthomyxoviridae, the influenza
viruses. The most common symptoms are chills, fever, sore throat, muscle pains,
headache (often severe), coughing, weakness/fatigue and general discomfort.
Although it is often confused with other influenza-like illnesses, especially the
common cold, influenza is a more severe disease caused by a different type of
virus. Influenza may produce nausea and vomiting, particularly in children, but
these symptoms are more common in the unrelated gastroenteritis, which is
sometimes inaccurately referred to as "stomach flu" or "24-hour flu".
Flu can occasionally lead to pneumonia, either direct viral pneumonia or secondary
bacterial pneumonia, even for persons who are usually very healthy. In particular it
is a warning sign if a child (or presumably an adult) seems to be getting better and
then relapses with a high fever as this relapse may be bacterial pneumonia.
Another warning sign is if the person starts to have trouble breathing. A 2009 New
England Journal of Medicine article stated that it is difficult to tell bacterial from
viral pneumonia and recommended that patients with influenza who show signs of
pneumonia be treated with both antivirals and antibiotics

Signs and symptoms


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Dengue fever
Dengue fever
Classification and external resources

The typical rash seen in dengue fever

Dengue fever (UK /de/ or US /di/), also known as breakbone fever, is an

infectious tropical disease caused by the dengue virus. Symptoms include fever,
headache, muscle and joint pains, and a characteristic skin rash that is similar to
measles. In a small proportion of cases the disease develops into the lifethreatening dengue hemorrhagic fever, resulting in bleeding, low levels of blood
platelets and blood plasma leakage, or into dengue shock syndrome, where
dangerously low blood pressure occurs.
Dengue is transmitted by several species of mosquito within the genus Aedes,
principally A. aegypti. The virus has four different types; infection with one type
usually gives lifelong immunity to that type, but only short-term immunity to the
others. Subsequent infection with a different type increases the risk of severe
complications. As there is no commercially available vaccine, prevention is sought
by reducing the habitat and the number of mosquitoes and limiting exposure to


Classification and external resources

A man with an atrophied right leg due to poliomyelitis

Poliomyelitis (plee--m--ltiss), often called polio or infantile paralysis, is an

acute, viral, infectious disease spread from person to person, primarily via the fecaloral route. The term derives from the Greek polis (), meaning "grey",
myels ( marrow), referring to the grey matter of the spinal cord, and the
suffix -itis, which denotes inflammation., i.e., inflammation of the spinal cords grey
matter, although a severe infection can extend into the brainstem and even higher
structures, resulting in polioencephalitis, producing apnea that requires mechanical
assistance such as an iron lung.
Although approximately 90% of polio infections cause no symptoms at all, affected
individuals can exhibit a range of symptoms if the virus enters the blood stream. In
about 1% of cases, the virus enters the central nervous system, preferentially
infecting and destroying motor neurons, leading to muscle weakness and acute
flaccid paralysis. Different types of paralysis may occur, depending on the nerves



Jaundice of the skin caused by hepatic failure.

Jaundice (also known as icterus; from the Greek word , attributive adjective:
icteric) is a yellowish pigmentation of the skin, the conjunctival membranes over
the sclerae (whites of the eyes), and other mucous membranes caused by
hyperbilirubinemia (increased levels of bilirubin in the blood). This
hyperbilirubinemia subsequently causes increased levels of bilirubin in the
extracellular fluid. Concentration of bilirubin in blood plasma does not normally
exceed 1 mg/dL (>17mol/L). A concentration higher than 1.8 mg/dL (>30mol/L)
leads to jaundice. The term jaundice comes from the French word jaune, meaning
Jaundice is often seen in liver disease such as hepatitis or liver cancer. It may also
indicate leptospirosis or obstruction of the biliary tract, for example by gallstones or
pancreatic cancer, or less commonly be congenital in origin.
Yellow discoloration of the skin, especially on the palms and the soles, but not of the
sclera and mucous membranes (i.e. oral cavity) is due to carotenemiaa harmless
conditionimportant to differentiate from jaundice.



Classification and external resources

The red ribbon is a symbol for solidarity with HIV-positive

people and those living with AIDS.

Human immunodeficiency acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) is a

disease of the human immune system caused by the human immunodeficiency
virus (HIV). During the initial infection a person may experience a brief period of
influenza-like illness. This is typically followed by a prolonged period without
symptoms. As the illness progresses it interferes more and more with the immune
system, making people much more likely to get infections, including opportunistic
infections, and tumors that do not usually affect people with working immune
HIV is transmitted primarily via unprotected sexual intercourse (including anal and
even oral sex), contaminated blood transfusions and hypodermic needles, and from
mother to child during pregnancy, delivery, or breastfeeding.Some bodily fluids,
such as saliva and tears, do not transmit HIV Prevention of HIV infection, primarily
through safe sex and needle-exchange programs, is a key strategy to control the
spread of the disease. There is no cure or vaccine; however, antiretroviral treatment
can slow the course of the disease and may lead to a near-normal life expectancy.
While antiretroviral treatment reduces the risk of death and complications from the
disease, these medications are expensive and may be associated with side effects.


Classification and external resources

Male with varicella disease

Chickenpox (or chicken pox) is a highly contagious disease caused by primary

infection with varicella zoster virus (VZV). It usually starts with vesicular skin rash
mainly on the body and head rather than at the periphery and becomes itchy, raw
pockmarks, which mostly heal without scarring. On examination, the observer
typically finds lesions at various stages of healing.
Chickenpox is an airborne disease spread easily through coughing or sneezing of ill
individuals or through direct contact with secretions from the rash. A person with
chickenpox is infectious one to two days before the rash appears. They remain
contagious until all lesions have crusted over (this takes approximately six days).
Immunocompromised patients are contagious during the entire period as new
lesions keep appearing. Crusted lesions are not contagious.
Chickenpox has been observed in other primates, including chimpanzees and
There are several theories regarding the origin of the term chicken pox. It is often
stated to be a modification of chickpeas (based on resemblance of the vesicles to
chickpeas), or due to the rash resembling chicken pecks. Other theories include the
designation chicken for a child (i.e., literally 'child pox') or a corruption of itchingpox. Samuel Johnson explained the designation as "from its being of no very great


Bacterial disease
Typhoid fever
Typhoid fever
Classification and external resources

Rose spots on the chest of a patient with typhoid fever due to

the bacterium Salmonella typhi

Typhoid fever, also known as typhoid, is a common worldwide bacterial disease,

transmitted by the ingestion of food or water contaminated with the feces of an
infected person, which contain the bacterium Salmonella typhi, serotype Typhi.
The disease has received various names, such as gastric fever, abdominal typhus,
infantile remittant fever, slow fever, nervous fever or pythogenic fever. The name
"typhoid" means "resembling typhus" and comes from the neuropsychiatric
symptoms common to typhoid and typhus. Despite this similarity of their names,
typhoid fever and typhus are distinct diseases and are caused by different species
of bacteria.
The impact of this disease fell sharply with the application of 20th century
sanitation techniques.



Classification and external resources

Scanning electron microscope image of Vibrio cholerae

Cholera is an infection in the small intestine caused by the bacterium Vibrio

cholerae. The main symptoms are profuse, watery diarrhea and vomiting.
Transmission occurs primarily by drinking water or eating food that has been
contaminated by the feces of an infected person, including one with no apparent
symptoms. The severity of the diarrhea and vomiting can lead to rapid dehydration
and electrolyte imbalance, and death in some cases. The primary treatment is oral
rehydration therapy, typically with oral rehydration solution (ORS), to replace water
and electrolytes. If this is not tolerated or does not provide improvement fast
enough, intravenous fluids can also be used. Antibacterial drugs are beneficial in
those with severe disease to shorten its duration and severity. Worldwide, it affects
35 million people and causes 100,000130,000 deaths a year as of 2010[update].
Cholera was one of the earliest infections to be studied by epidemiological

Signs and symptoms

A person with severe dehydration due to cholera - note the sunken eyes and
decreased skin turgor which produces wrinkled hands


Classification and external resources

Chest X-ray of a person with advanced tuberculosis.

Infection in both lungs is marked by white arrow-heads, and
the formation of a cavity is marked by black arrows.

Tuberculosis, MTB, or TB (short for tubercle bacillus) is a common, and in many

cases lethal, infectious disease caused by various strains of mycobacteria, usually
Mycobacterium tuberculosis.[1] Tuberculosis typically attacks the lungs, but can
also affect other parts of the body. It is spread through the air when people who
have an active TB infection cough, sneeze, or otherwise transmit their saliva
through the air.[2] Most infections are asymptomatic and latent, but about one in
ten latent infections eventually progresses to active disease which, if left untreated,
kills more than 50% of those so infected.
The classic symptoms of active TB infection are a chronic cough with blood-tinged
sputum, fever, night sweats, and weight loss (the latter giving rise to the formerly
prevalent term "consumption"). Infection of other organs causes a wide range of
symptoms. Diagnosis of active TB relies on radiology (commonly chest X-rays), as
well as microscopic examination and microbiological culture of body fluids.
Diagnosis of latent TB relies on the tuberculin skin test (TST) and/or blood tests.

Treatment is difficult and requires administration of multiple antibiotics over a long

period of time. Social contacts are also screened and treated if necessary.


Fungal disease
Athlete's foot
Athlete's Foot
Classification and external resources

A severe case of athlete's foot

Athlete's foot (also known as ringworm of the foot and tinea pedis ) is a fungal
infection of the skin that causes scaling, flaking, and itch of affected areas, is
caused by fungi in the genus Trichophyton. While it is typically transmitted in moist
communal areas where people walk barefoot, such as showers or bathhouses, the
disease requires a warm moist environment, such as the inside of a shoe, in order
to incubate. Because of this the fungus only affects approximately 0.75% of
habitually (always) barefoot people.
Although the condition typically affects the feet, it can infect or spread to other
areas of the body, including the groin, particularly areas of skin that are kept hot
and moist, such as with insulation, body heat, and sweat in a shoe, for long periods
of time. While the fungus is generally picked up through walking barefoot in an
infected area or using an infected towel, infection can be prevented by remaining
barefoot as this allows the feet to dry properly and removes the fungus' primary
incubator - the warm moist interior of a shoe. Athlete's foot can be treated by a
number of pharmaceuticals (including creams) and other treatments, although it

can be almost completely prevented by never wearing shoes, or wearing them as

little as possible.


Protozoan disease


Classification and external resources

A Plasmodium in the form that enters humans and other

vertebrates from the saliva of female mosquitoes (a
sporozoite) traverses the cytoplasm of a mosquito midgut
epithelial cell.

Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease of humans and other animals caused

by protists (a type of microorganism) of the genus Plasmodium. It begins with a bite
from an infected female mosquito, which introduces the protists via its saliva into
the circulatory system, and ultimately to the liver where they mature and
reproduce. The disease causes symptoms that typically include fever and
headache, which in severe cases can progress to coma or death. Malaria is
widespread in tropical and subtropical regions in a broad band around the equator,
including much of Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and the Americas.

Five species of Plasmodium can infect and be transmitted by humans. The vast
majority of deaths are caused by P. falciparum while P. vivax, P. ovale, and
P. malariae cause a generally milder form of malaria that is rarely fatal. The
zoonotic species P. knowlesi, prevalent in Southeast Asia, causes malaria in
macaques but can also cause severe infections in humans. Malaria is prevalent in
tropical and subtropical regions because rainfall, warm temperatures, and stagnant
waters provide habitats ideal for mosquito larvae. Disease transmission can be
reduced by preventing mosquito bites by distribution of mosquito nets and insect
repellents, or with mosquito-control measures such as spraying insecticides and
draining standing water.


Visceral leishmaniasis
Visceral leishmaniasis
kl zr
Classification and external resources

Amastigotes in a chorionic villus

Visceral leishmaniasis (VL), also known as kala-azar, black fever, and Dumdum
fever,:426 is the most severe form of leishmaniasis. Leishmaniasis is a disease
caused by protozoan parasites of the Leishmania genus. This disease is the secondlargest parasitic killer in the world (after malaria), responsible for an estimated
500,000 infections each year worldwide. The parasite migrates to the internal
organs such as liver, spleen (hence 'visceral'), and bone marrow, and, if left
untreated, will almost always result in the death of the host. Signs and symptoms
include fever, weight loss, mucosal ulcers, fatigue, anemia, and substantial swelling
of the liver and spleen. Of particular concern, according to the World Health
Organization (WHO), is the emerging problem of HIV/VL co-infection.

Life-cycle of the parasite

Visceral leishmaniasis (Kala-azar) is spread through an insect vector, the sandfly of
the Phlebotomus genus in the Old World and the Lutzomyia genus in the New
World. Sandflies are tiny creatures, 3-6 millimeters long by 1.5-3 millimeters in
diameter, and are found in tropical or temperate regions throughout the world.
Sandfly larvae grow in warm, moist organic matter, such as old trees, house walls,
or waste making them hard to eradicate.
The adult female sand fly is a bloodsucker, usually feeding at night on sleeping
prey. When the fly bites an animal infected with L. donovani, the pathogen is
ingested along with the preys blood. At this point the protozoan is in the smaller of
its two forms, called an amastigote round, non-motile, and only three to seven
micrometers in diameter.



Worm causes disaese

Classification and external resources

"Bellevue Venus" Oscar G. Mason's portrait of a woman with


Elephantiasis /lfnta.ss/ EL-i-fn-TY--sis is a disease that is characterized by

the thickening of the skin and underlying tissues, especially in the legs and male
genitals. In some cases the disease can cause certain body parts, such as the
scrotum, to swell to the size of a basketball.[1] It is caused

Elephantiasis occurs in the presence of microscopic, thread-like parasitic worms
such as Wuchereria bancrofti, Brugia malayi, and B. timori, all of which are
transmitted by mosquitoes.[3] However, the disease itself is a result of a complex
interplay between several factors: the worm, the symbiotic Wolbachia bacteria
within the worm, the hosts immune response, and the numerous opportunistic
infections and disorders that arise. Consequently, it is common in tropical regions
and Africa. The adult worms only live in the human lymphatic system.The parasite
infects the lymph nodes and blocks the flow of lymph throughout the body; this
results in chronic edema, most often noted in the lower torso (typically in the legs
and genitals).



An antibacterial is an agent that inhibits bacterial growth or kills bacteria. The term
is often used synonymously with the term antibiotic(s); today, however, with
increased knowledge of the causative agents of various infectious diseases,
antibiotic(s) has come to denote a broader range of antimicrobial compounds,
including anti-fungal and other compounds.
The term antibiotic was first used in 1942 by Selman Waksman and his
collaborators in journal articles to describe any substance produced by a
microorganism that is antagonistic to the growth of other microorganisms in high
dilution. This definition excluded substances that kill bacteria, but are not produced
by microorganisms (such as gastric juices and hydrogen peroxide). It also excluded
synthetic antibacterial compounds such as the sulfonamides. Many antibacterial
compounds are relatively small molecules with a molecular weight of less than
2000 atomic mass units.
With advances in medicinal chemistry, most of today's antibacterials chemically are
semisynthetic modifications of various natural compounds. These include, for
example, the beta-lactam antibacterials, which include the penicillins (produced by
fungi in the genus Penicillium), the cephalosporins, and the carbapenems.
Compounds that are still isolated from living organisms are the aminoglycosides,
whereas other antibacterialsfor example, the sulfonamides, the quinolones, and
the oxazolidinonesare produced solely by chemical synthesis. In accordance with
this, many antibacterial compounds are classified on the basis of
chemical/biosynthetic origin into natural, semisynthetic, and synthetic. Another
classification system is based on biological activity; in this classification,
antibacterials are divided into two broad groups according to their biological effect
on microorganisms: bactericidal agents kill bacteria, and bacteriostatic agents slow
down or stall bacterial growth.