Microbiology Terms

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Aerobe

an organism that requires oxygen for life and reproduction

Anaerobe

an organism that does not require oxygen for life and reproduction

Antibacterial (antibiotics)

medications used to stop or slow the growth of bacteria in the body, allowing the body's immune system to get back in control

Bactericidal antibiotic

kill bacteria

Bacteriostatic antibiotic

stop the growth of bacteria

Antifungal

medications used to stop or slow the growth of fungus

Antihelmintics

medications used to stop or slow the growth of worms

Antiviral

medications used to stop or slow the growth of viruses

Autoimmune diseases

disorders characterized by inflammation and destruction of the body's tissues caused by the body's own immune system

Bacteria

single-celled microorganisms that do not have a defined nucleus and are found virtually everywhere

Pathogenic bacteria

bacteria that cause disease

Nonpathogenic bacteria

bacteria that do not cause disease

CD4+ count

the count of a certain type of white blood cells; used to assess the magnitude of injury to immune system (for instance, to determine when to initiate therapy and monitor the effectiveness of HIV and AIDS treatment)

Colonization

presence of bacteria in a human host that is not part of the normal flora; often resides in the host without causing disease unless overgrowth occurs

Dermatophytes

fungi that cause infection of hair, skin, and nails

Disease

a condition of the body in which there is abnormal functioning resulting from the effects of hereditary, infection, diet, or environment

Dysentery

infection of the intestinal tract causing severe diarrhea with blood and mucus

Endemic

a disease constantly present in a population

Epidemic

a greater than normal number of cases of a disease in an area within a particular period (occurring in outbreaks)

Etiology

the study of the causes and origins of disease

Fomite

an inanimate object on which pathogens may be transmitted

Fungi

plant-like microorganisms that lack chlorophyll and need to live off of a food source that is either dead or alive

Immune-competent

having an immune system that possesses the ability to mount a normal immune response

Immune-compromised

having an immune system that is weakened by disease, such as HIV, or as a result of a treatment, such as with chemotherapy medications given to treat patients with cancer. The risk of susceptibility to infections is increased.

Immune-deficient

a condition resulting from a defective immune mechanism; may be primary, due to a defect in the immune mechanism itself, or secondary, dependent upon another disease process

Immunosuppression

suppression of the immune response, as by drugs or radiation, in order to prevent rejection of a graft or transplant or to control autoimmune disease. It is also known as immunodepression.

Infection

contamination of any body tissue and organ by an invading organism or foreign substance, such as a microorganism

Microbiology

the study of very small or microscopic organisms of either animal (bacterial, protozoa) or plant (fungus, molds) origin.

Bacteriology

the study of bacteria

Mycology

the study of fungi, to include molds, mushrooms, and yeasts

Parasitology

the study of parasites

Protozoology

the study of protozoa

Virology

the study of viruses

Micrometer (mcm)

a unit of length, equal to one-millionth of a meter; previously known as a micron (10^-6 meter)

Morphology

the study of the form and structure of an organism

Mycosis

a general term pertaining to any fungal infection. It may be superficial or systemic.

Neutropenia

an abnormally low white blood cell count, sometimes as a result of chemotherapy or illness, which hampers the body in fighting infections

Nonpathogenic

bacteria that do not cause disease

Normal flora

microorganisms that constantly and consistently inhabit the human body. Some of these organisms are known to perform tasks that are useful for the human host, while the majority have no known beneficial or harmful effect.

Pandemic

a worldwide epidemic of a particular disease; examples include HIV and influenza

Parasite

organism that lives within or upon another form of life and depends on that form of life for nourishment and in some cases survival

Pathogen

organism or bacteria capable of causing disease

Spore

a reproductive element of a plant or microorganism, usually in a resting state and encased in a hard, resistant protein coat

Systemic

affecting the body as a whole. Systemic infections are generally life-threatening.

Toxin

a poisonous substance

Vector

an insect or other organism that transmits parasitic micro-organisms from person-to-person

Virus

a small microorganism, which needs a living cell to grow or reproduce

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