Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine

2013 Edition
| Editors: Marc D. Gellman, J. Rick Turner

Infectious Diseases

  • Mark T. DraysonEmail author
  • Anna C. Phillips
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-1005-9_864



Infectious diseases are illnesses caused by a diverse range of microorganisms. The immune system fights against such infection. 10% of all deaths in the UK, approximately 50,000 people a year, are due to infections, overwhelmingly in the elderly and worldwide the proportion of people dying from infection is 25%. In impoverished tropical environments many children have a 1:8 chance of dying before their 5th birthday.


Microorganisms which cause infection include DNA viruses, RNA viruses, bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and worms. They can also be classified according to whether they replicate inside or outside of cells. Differences between infectious agents and their sites of replication necessitate different immune mechanisms for their control. Table  1 shows the class of microorganism, where it replicates, examples, and the diseases they cause.
Infectious Diseases, Table 1

Microorganism types and the diseases they cause

Class and site of replication

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References and Readings

  1. Janeway, C. A., Travers, P., Walport, M., & Shlomchik, M. J. (2005). Immunobiology: The immune system in health and disease (6th ed.). New York: Garland Science.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Medical and Dental SciencesUniversity of BirminghamEdgbaston, BirminghamUK
  2. 2.Sport & Exercise SciencesUniversity of BirminghamEdgbaston, BirminghamUK