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Infectious Diseases Terms

Get down with the lingo

Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)

This is the disease caused by infection with the HIV virus. With treatment, it takes many years before a patient develops AIDS.


Something that can kill bacteria.


A drug taken to combat a bacterial infection.


Something produced by the immune system to help combat a specific pathogen. Antibodies are produced upon infection. They can help to both detect a pathogen and to assist with destroying it. After an infection, a small group of antibodies will remain to keep an eye out for the pathogen in case it dares to return.


A drug taken to combat a fungal infection.


A drug taken to combat a viral infection.


One of the three domains of living things. Bacteria are single-celled prokaryotes. Although they are tiny single cells, they are still very diverse.


The study of bacteria.


A group of bacteria living together in a clump for a purpose.


A type of terrorism where a group instills fear by using bioweapons against another group.

Bio Warfare

A type of war between two countries or groups using bioweapons.


A weapon using a pathogen as a way to harm another person or thing.


The protein shell that surround the virus genome.

Center For Disease Control (CDC)

The United States government organization that handles infectious diseases.

Drug Resistance

This happens when a pathogen has changed so that a drug is not effective to it anymore.


This is an outbreak of a disease that remains in one country or one area. It is not the largest type of disease outbreak. The largest type of outbreak is a pandemic.


The study of health and disease patterns and their effects on a population.


A type of organism that spreads by sporulation. It is a member of the Eukarya domain. Yeasts and molds are examples of fungi.

Gut Flora

The population of bacteria that live inside your gut, primarily in your intestine. They can help the body in many ways, and are a requirement for a healthy digestive process. Many of their important functions are not well understood yet.


The organism (it could be you) that is infected by a pathogen. It probably doesn't want to be a host, and often pathogens are uninvited guests.

Infectious Disease

A disease caused by infection with a pathogen such as a bacterium, a virus, a fungus, or a parasite.

Latent Infection

An infection that is in a sort of hibernation mode. It does not cause symptoms and the person is not contagious. Sometimes symptoms can take a long time to appear. Other times they can appear and disappear and reappear, such as in Tuberculosis.

Lymph Node

A local office of the immune system in different places of your body. You have lymph nodes in your neck, under your arms, in your groin, and other places in your body. They are a hangout for immune cells and they can swell and become inflamed during an infection.

Mycotic Infection

This is a fancy way of saying a fungal infection.


This means something is not harmful to you and will not cause disease.


An organism that lives in or on another organism and depends on it for food and energy.


Something that can infect you and cause you harm. Bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites are some types of pathogens.


A type of cell that has no nucleus or organelles. It is a simple structure. Bacteria are prokaryotes.


The process of reproduction through making spores and sending them out into the world.


A type of pathogen that is resistant to two or more drugs. They are dangerous because doctors have few or no drugs left to combat the infection.


A small dose of a pathogen that will not hurt you but will allow your body to make antibodies. These antibodies will protect you if you are infected by the "real" pathogen. Vaccines can be made with either a weakened pathogen or a dead pathogen, or sometimes just part of a pathogen.


Something that carries around a pathogen and spreads disease. A vector animal does not usually get sick with an infectious disease. They just carry it around.


This is the fancy name for a viral particle.


The study of viruses.


A non-living infectious particle. It requires a host cell to reproduce itself.

World Health Organization (WHO)

A worldwide organization that investigates health around the world. They keep track of the outbreaks of infectious diseases.

Zoonotic Disease

A disease that can affect both humans and other animals.

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