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Biology LibreTexts

12: Microbial Interactions Flora, Pathogenicity and Epidemiology

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    • 12.1: Normal Microbiota of the Body
      Human skin consists of two main layers, the epidermis and dermis, which are situated on top of the hypodermis, a layer of connective tissue. The skin is an effective physical barrier against microbial invasion. The skin’s relatively dry environment and normal microbiota discourage colonization by transient microbes. The skin’s normal microbiota varies from one region of the body to another. The conjunctiva of the eye is a frequent site for microbial infection and deeper infections are less commo
    • 12.2: Characteristics and Steps of Infectious Diseases
      In an infection, a microorganism enters a host and begins to multiply. Symptoms of a disease are subjective and are reported by the patient. Diseases can either be noninfectious (due to genetics and environment) or infectious (due to pathogens). Virulence, the degree to which a pathogen can cause disease, can be quantified by calculating either the ID50 or LD50 of a pathogen on a given population. Primary pathogens are capable of causing pathological changes associated with disease in a healthy
    • 12.3: Virulence Factors in Infection
      Virulence factors contribute to a pathogen’s ability to cause disease. Exoenzymes and toxins allow pathogens to invade host tissue and cause tissue damage. Exoenzymes are classified according to the macromolecule they target and exotoxins are classified based on their mechanism of action. Bacterial toxins include endotoxin and exotoxins. Endotoxin is the lipid A component of the LPS of the gram-negative cell envelope. Exotoxins are proteins secreted mainly by gram-positive bacteria.
    • 12.4: How Diseases Spread
      Pathogens often have elaborate adaptations to exploit host biology, behavior, and ecology to live in and move between hosts. Hosts have evolved defenses against pathogens, but because their rates of evolution are typically slower than their pathogens (because their generation times are longer), hosts are usually at an evolutionary disadvantage. This section will explore where pathogens survive—both inside and outside hosts—and some of the many ways they move from one host to another.
    • 12.5: The Language of Epidemiologists
      The field of epidemiology concerns the geographical distribution and timing of infectious disease occurrences and how they are transmitted and maintained in nature, with the goal of recognizing and controlling outbreaks. The science of epidemiology includes etiology (the study of the causes of disease) and investigation of disease transmission (mechanisms by which a disease is spread).
    • 12.6: Tracking Infectious Diseases
      Some important researchers, such as Florence Nightingale, subscribed to the miasma hypothesis. The transition to acceptance of the germ theory during the 19th century provided a solid mechanistic grounding to the study of disease patterns. The studies of 19th century physicians and researchers such as John Snow, Florence Nightingale, Ignaz Semmelweis, Joseph Lister, Robert Koch, Louis Pasteur, and others sowed the seeds of modern epidemiology.