An infectious disease is any disease caused by the growth of pathogenic microbes in the body wherein it exponentially multiplies during the infection process. An infectious disease, depending on the causative agent can be highly contagious in most cases. Modern science has controlled, eradicated, or decreased the incidence of many infectious diseases.
Increases in other infections wherein certain causative agents increasingly become highly resistant to antibiotic medication complicates the entire infection process. Members of the health care team providing care to individuals who are suffering at any stage of the infection cycle play a very important role in breaking the chain of infection by educating patients and family members regarding the basic steps in infection control.
The chain of infection
The complete events in the chain of infection or the infection process are necessary for infection to occur. The necessary elements for infection to occur are the following:
- A causative agent
- A reservoir of available organisms
- A portal or mode of exit from the reservoir
- A mode of transmission from the reservoir to the host
- A susceptible host
- A mode of entry to the host
Colonization during the infection proces
Relatively few anatomical sites such as the brain, blood, bone, heart, and vascular system are normally sterile. Bacteria found throughout the body usually provides beneficial normal bacterial flora to compete with potential pathogens that cause diseases. The function of these normal bacterial flora includes facilitation of digestion as well as other similar symbiotic functions in the host body. The term colonization is used to describe microorganisms present without host interference or interaction. Organisms reported in microbiology test results are better reflective of colonization rather than infection. Members of the heath care team must be able to interpret microbiology results accurately in order to ensure appropriate treatment as well as proper precautionary measures to prevent infection from spreading.
Infection and infectious disease
It is very important to recognize the difference between infection and infectious disease. Infectious disease is the state in which the infected host displays a decline in wellness due to the onset of infection in the host’s body. When the host interacts immunologically with a certain organism but remains relatively symptoms free, the definition of infectious disease in a strict sense has not been fully met.
The primary source of information about most bacterial
is the patient’s microbiology report. This laboratory report should be viewed as a tool along with the clinical indicators to help in determining whether a patient is colonized, infected or diseased. Microbiology reports from clinical specimens usually show three components; (1) the smear and stain, (2) the culture and the organism identified and (3) the antimicrobial susceptibility. As a marker for the likelihood of infection, the smear and stain generally provide the most useful information because they generally describe the mixture of different cells presented at the anatomical site at the time of the specimen collection. With that in mind, culture and sensitivity results therefore can specify which organism in the infection process are recognized and which antibiotics can actively kill the bacteria.