|false-colored electron micrograph showing a malaria sporozoite migrating through the midgut epithelium of a rat|
an infection is the invasion of an organism's body tissues by disease-causing agents, their multiplication, and the reaction of host tissues to the infectious agents and the toxins they produce. an infectious disease, also known as a transmissible disease or communicable disease, is an illness resulting from an infection.
infections are caused by infectious agents (pathogens) including:
- viruses and related agents such as viroids and prions
- fungi, further subclassified into:
- ascomycota, including yeasts such as candida, filamentous fungi such as aspergillus, pneumocystis species, and dermatophytes, a group of organisms causing infection of skin and other superficial structures in humans.
- basidiomycota, including the human-pathogenic genus cryptococcus.
- parasites, which are usually divided into:
- unicellular organisms (e.g. malaria, toxoplasma, babesia)
- macroparasites (worms or helminths) including nematodes such as parasitic roundworms and pinworms, tapeworms (cestodes), and flukes (trematodes, such as schistosomiasis)
- arthropods such as ticks, mites, fleas, and lice, can also cause human disease, which conceptually are similar to infections, but invasion of a human or animal body by these macroparasites is usually termed infestation. (diseases caused by helminths, which are also macroparasites, are sometimes termed infestations as well, but are sometimes called infections.)
hosts can fight infections using their immune system. mammalian hosts react to infections with an innate response, often involving inflammation, followed by an adaptive response.
specific medications used to treat infections include antibiotics, antivirals, antifungals, antiprotozoals, and antihelminthics. infectious diseases resulted in 9.2 million deaths in 2013 (about 17% of all deaths). the branch of medicine that focuses on infections is referred to as infectious disease.