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The Patient as Victim and VectorEthics and Infectious Disease$
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Margaret P. Battin, Leslie P. Francis, Jay A. Jacobson, and Charles B. Smith

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195335842

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195335842.001.0001

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The Biological Basics of Infectious Disease

The Biological Basics of Infectious Disease

The Patient as Victim and Vector

Margaret P. Battin (Contributor Webpage)

Leslie P. Francis (Contributor Webpage)

Jay A. Jacobson (Contributor Webpage)

Charles B. Smith (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Infectious diseases, although they vary substantially in their manifestations and causes, share certain common features that make them distinct and remarkable. These diseases can strike suddenly and unexpectedly, and can affect otherwise healthy people. They can progress swiftly to severe disability and death, but some individuals recover spontaneously and completely. We now know more about the causes and treatment of infectious disease than other diseases and that has led to simple, safe, effective, and relatively inexpensive preventatives and treatments. Many but by no means all infectious diseases are either directly or indirectly transmissible. The chapter introduces and characterizes the microorganisms that cause infectious diseases including parasites, fungi, bacteria, viruses, and prions; describes the alterations in human health and function that occur when these organisms infect us; and explains the ways that infections are transmitted. Familiar examples are chicken pox and giardiasis. Others, of greater global importance, are AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. This chapter explores how we acquire and experience infections as victims and how we contribute to their propagation as vectors.

Keywords:   preventatives, treatments, transmission, microorganisms, bacteria, viruses, AIDS, Tuberculosis, malaria

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