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Glossary

Antibiotic / Antimicrobial Resistance A-Z Index

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A

Antibiotic
Type of antimicrobial agent made from a mold or a bacterium that kills, or slows the growth of other microbes, specifically bacteria. Examples include penicillin and streptomycin.

Antimicrobial agents
A general term for the drugs, chemicals, or other substances that either kill or slow the growth of microbes. Among the antimicrobial agents in use today are antibacterial drugs (which kill bacteria), antiviral agents (which kill viruses), antifungal agents (which kill fungi), and antiparisitic drugs (which kill parasites).

Antimicrobial resistance
Antimicrobial resistance is the result of microbes changing in ways that reduce or eliminate the effectiveness of drugs, chemicals, or other agents to cure or prevent infections.

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B

Bacteria
Bacteria are single-celled organisms that live in and around us. Bacteria may be helpful, but in certain conditions may cause illnesses such as strep throat, most ear infections, and bacterial pneumonia.

Bacterium
The singular form of bacteria.

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C


D

Drug resistance
Drug resistance is the result of microbes changing in ways that reduce or eliminate the effectiveness of drugs, chemicals, or other agents to cure or prevent infections.

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E

Epidemiology
The study of the spread of diseases. Epidemiologists are often sent to investigate outbreaks.

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F

Fungi
Single-celled or multicellular organisms. Fungi can be either opportunistic pathogens (such as aspergillosis, candidiasis, and cryptococcosis) that cause infections in immunocompromised persons (including cancer patients, transplant recipients, and persons with AIDS) or pathogens (such as the endemic mycoses, histoplasmosis and coccidioidomycosis, and superficial mycoses) that cause infections in healthy persons. Fungi are also used for the development of antibiotics, antitoxins, and other drugs used to control various human diseases.

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H


I

Immunization
The process or procedure by which a subject (person, animal, or plant) is rendered immune, or resistant to a specific disease. This term is often used interchangeably with vaccination or inoculation, although the act of inoculation does not always result in immunity.

Infection
An invasion of an organism by a pathogen such as bacteria or viruses. Some infections lead to disease.

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L

Long-term care facility
A long-term care facility is a facility that provides rehabilitative, restorative, and/or ongoing skilled nursing care to patients or residents in need of assistance with activities of daily living. Long-term care facilities include nursing homes, rehabilitation facilities, inpatient behavioral health facilities, and long-term chronic care hospitals.

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M

Microbes
Organisms so small that a microscope is required to see them. Microbes are also called microorganisms.

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N

Nosocomial
Referring to an infection acquired by a patient while in a hospital.

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O

Organism
Any living thing. Organisms include humans, animals, plants, bacteria, protozoa, and fungi.

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P

Parasites
Any organism that lives in or on another organism without benefiting the host organism; commonly refers to pathogens, most commonly in reference to protozoans and helminths.

Pathogens
Bacteria, viruses, parasites, or fungi that can cause disease.

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S

Surveillance Systems
The ongoing systematic collection and analysis of data. The data may lead to actions taken to prevent and control an infectious disease.

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U


V

Virus
A strand of DNA or RNA in a protein coat that must get inside a living cell to grow and reproduce. Viruses cause many types of illness; for example, varicella virus causes chickenpox, and the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) causes the acquired immune deficiency syndrome, or AIDS.

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W


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