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A pathogen ( pathos, "suffering, passion" and gen s (-gen) "producer of") or infectious agent - in colloquial terms, a germ is a microbe or microorganism such as a virus, bacterium, prion, or fungus that causes disease in its animal or plant host.[1][2] There are several substrates including pathways whereby pathogens can invade a host; the principal pathways have different episodic time frames, but soil contamination has the longest or most persistent potential for harboring a pathogen.

Not all pathogens are negative. In entomology, pathogens are one of the "Three P's" (predators, pathogens, and parasitoids) that serve as natural or introduced biological controls to suppress arthropod pest populations.


Types of pathogen


Pathogenic viruses are mainly those of the families of: Adenoviridae, bacteria Picornaviridae, Herpesviridae, Hepadnaviridae, Flaviviridae, Retroviridae, Orthomyxoviridae, Paramyxoviridae, Papovaviridae, Polyomavirus, Rhabdoviridae, Togaviridae. Viruses typically range between 20-300 nanometers in length. [3]


Although the vast majority of bacteria are harmless or beneficial, a few pathogenic bacteria can cause infectious diseases. Bacteria can often be killed by antibiotics because the cell wall in the outside is destroyed and then the DNA. They typically range between 1 and 5 micrometers in length.


Fungi comprise a eukaryotic kingdom of microbes that are usually saprophytes but can cause diseases in humans, animals and plants. Fungi are the most common cause of diseases in crops and other plants. The typical fungal spore size is 1-40 micrometer in length.

Other parasites

Some eukaryotic organisms, such as protists and helminths, cause disease.


Prions are infectious pathogens that do not contain nucleic acids. Prions are abnormal proteins whose presence causes some diseases such as scrapie, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad cow disease) and Creutzfeldt Jakob disease.[4] The discovery of prion as a new class of pathogen led Stanley B. Prusiner to receive the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1997.

Animal pathogens

Animal pathogens are disease-causing agents of wild and domestic animal species, at times including humans.[5]


Virulence (the tendency of a pathogen to cause damage to a host's fitness) evolves when that pathogen can spread from a diseased host, despite that host being very debilitated. Horizontal transmission occurs between hosts of the same species, in contrast to vertical transmission, which tends to evolve symbiosis (after a period of high morbidity and mortality in the population) by linking the pathogen's evolutionary success to the evolutionary success of the host organism.

Evolutionary medicine has found that under horizontal transmission, the host population might never develop tolerance to the pathogen.


Transmission of pathogens occurs through many different routes, including airborne, direct or indirect contact, sexual contact, through blood, breast milk, or other body fluids, and through the fecal-oral route.

Examples of pathogens

See also


External links

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Source: Wikipedia | The above article is available under the GNU FDL. | Edit this article

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