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Glossary

The terms defined on this page are commonly used throughout the Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work site.

  • Adverse drug events
    When medical drugs, like antibiotics, have harmful effects; when someone has been harmed by a medication.
  • Antibiotic
    Type of antimicrobial agent made from a mold or bacterium that kills or slows the growth of other bacteria. Examples include penicillin and streptomycin.
  • Antimicrobial agents
    A general term for the drugs, chemicals, or other substances that either kill, inactivate, or slow the growth of microbes including bacteria, viruses, fungi and 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.
  • Bacteria
    Bacteria are single-celled organisms that live in and around us. Bacteria are necessary for us to function normally, but in some conditions may cause sickness such as strep throat, ear infections, or pneumonia.
  • Bacterium
    The singular form of bacteria.
  • 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.
  • Epidemiology
    The study of the spread of disease, or disease patterns at the population level. Epidemiologists are often sent to investigate outbreaks.
  • Fungi
    Single-celled or multicellular organisms. Fungi can be either opportunistic pathogens (such as aspergillosis, candidiasis, and cryptococcosis) that cause infections in immunocompromised persons (such as cancer patients, transplant recipients, and persons with AIDS) or pathogens that cause infections in healthy persons (such as histoplasmosis or coccidioidomycosis). Fungi may also be used for the development of antibiotics, antitoxins, and other drugs used to control various human diseases.
  • Immunization
    The process by which a subject (person, animal, or plant) is rendered immune, or resistant to a 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, often causing an immune response from the host. Some infections lead to disease.
  • Long-term care facility
    A long-term care facility (LTCF) 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. LCTFs include nursing homes, rehabilitation facilities, inpatient behavioral health facilities, and long-term chronic care hospitals.
  • Microbes
    Organisms so small that a microscope is required to see them. Microbes are also called microorganisms.
  • Nosocomial
    Referring to an infection acquired by a patient while in a hospital.
  • Organism
    Any living thing. Organisms include humans, animals, plants, bacteria, protozoa, and fungi.
  • Parasites
    Any organism that lives in or on another organism without benefiting the host organism; commonly refers to protozoans and helminths.
  • Pathogens
    Bacteria, viruses, parasites, or fungi that can cause disease.
  • Surveillance Systems
    The ongoing systematic collection and analysis of data. The data may lead to actions taken to prevent and control an infectious disease.
  • 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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