Infectious Diseases, Introduction

  • Phyllis J. KankiEmail author


Infectious diseases of humans and animals are illnesses resulting from an infection caused by the presence or growth of a biological organism, often termed a pathogen, for its disease-causing behavior. The term derives from the transmissibility of the pathogen to others and when this results in large numbers of infections in a region can be responsible for epidemics. Pathogens responsible for infectious diseases can be viruses, bacteria, protozoa, fungi, multicellular parasites, and prions. While antibiotics and vaccines have made major progress in the treatment and prevention of major infectious diseases, largely in the developed world, the developing world still bears a significant burden of disease due to infectious disease pathogens such as malaria, tuberculosis, and the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). Changes in the environment, zoonotic pathogens and their interaction with human populations, and medical practice including treatment and vaccines are just some examples of determinants that can modulate the impact of infectious diseases, in terms of spread, ability to cause disease, or even response to prevention or treatment measures. The ever-changing dynamic nature of infectious diseases is not only due to some pathogen’s intrinsic propensity for diversity and fitness but also complex lifecycles involving intermediate nonhuman hosts. Therefore, our ability to control or eradicate various infectious diseases must entail new technologies and analytic methods.


Human Immunodeficiency Virus Avian Influenza Swine Influenza Malaria Vaccine Swine Influenza Virus 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Immunology and Infectious DiseasesHarvard School of Public HealthBostonUSA

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