Infectious diseases are illnesses that result when foreign organisms, such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoa, and helminths, disrupt the normal function of the human body. As you may know, these organisms are some of the most abundant creatures on earth. In fact, some even reside within our body in a symbiotic relationship.
The organisms that live within us are known as the normal flora, and while they can cause disease, it is usually only when the body’s defense system is weakened. However, if you have recently suffered from a cold, the flu, or strep throat, you also know that we do not have such a “friendly” relationship with all microorganisms. The creatures that cause disease are known as pathogens. The diseases that pathogens cause have wide ranging effects on us – from mild symptoms, such as a runny nose and a cough, to the most severe cases, where they can cause death.
Although infectious diseases are very common in the community, they only rarely necessitate emergency intervention. However, it is essential that you have an understanding of the basic principles of infectious diseases and their prevention, because exposure to an infectious agent can come at any time and can have devastating consequences on yourself, your patients, and your community.
The following course is the second in a series of four lectures covering infectious diseases and presents an overview of how to prevent the transmission of infectious diseases. The course will begin by describing the risk of, and basic steps involved in, contracting an infectious disease while on the job. Next, organizations that participate in infection control will be identified. After that, essential features of on-the-job infection control will be detailed. In addition, the basic components of the response to an on-the-job infectious exposure will be listed. The course will conclude by detailing key elements of disease prevention.