With Roger Barker and Steve Wharton
Infectious agents can cause a host of disorders within the nervous system, from fulminant bacterial meningitis to slow viral infections that underlie some neurodegenerative conditions. This chapter concentrates on the main pathogenic mechanisms of infective disorders rather than their neuropathological findings. These mechanisms involve direct invasion and damage by the infective organism, exotoxins, and the recruitment of an immune response that, whilst attempting to rid the body of the infection, can also damage the nervous system. Many, if not all, infections mediate their effect through a number of different mechanisms, one of which usually predominates. For clarity, these separate processes are discussed individually with reference to specific disease examples.
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