Transmission (medicine)  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

In medicine, public health, and biology, transmission is the passing of a pathogen causing communicable disease from an infected host individual or group to a particular individual or group, regardless of whether the other individual was previously infected.

The term strictly refers to the transmission of microorganisms directly from one individual to another by one or more of the following means:

  • airborne – coughing, sneezing, breathing.
    • airborne infection – really small dry and wet particles that stay in the air for long periods of time allowing airborne contamination even after the departure of the host. Particle size < 5 μm.
    • droplet infection – small and usually wet particles that stay in the air for a short period of time. Contamination usually occurs in the presence of the host. Particle size > 5 μm.
  • direct physical contact – touching an infected individual, including sexual contact
  • indirect physical contact – usually by touching a contaminated surface, including soil (fomite)
  • fecal-oral transmission – usually from unwashed hands, contaminated food or water sources due to lack of sanitation and hygiene, an important transmission route in pediatrics, veterinary medicine and developing countries.

Transmission can also be indirect, via another organism, either a vector (e.g. a mosquito or fly) or an intermediate host (e.g. tapeworm in pigs can be transmitted to humans who ingest improperly cooked pork). Indirect transmission could involve zoonoses or, more typically, larger pathogens like macroparasites with more complex life cycles. Transmissions can be autochthonous (i.e. between two individuals in the same place) or may involve travel of the microorganism or the affected hosts.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Transmission (medicine)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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