Monday, March 3, 2014

The agent is not the disease!

Smiley.svgThere's a distinction between the etiologic agent of a disease and the disease itself.

One doesn't get salmonella. One gets salmonellosis, which is caused by Salmonella spp. bacteria. Mosquitoes don't carry dengue fever, they carry dengue fever virus. Anthrax is a zoonotic disease caused by Bacillus anthracis. AIDS is a disease, the causative agent of which is HIV (and definitely not the "HIV virus"). Campylobacter jejuni is a bacterium that causes campylobacteriosis. And so on.

When discussing a disease, use the name of the disease. When discussing the etiologic agent of a disease, use the name of the pathogen. Rarely are they the same.

Please, when you write papers or give presentations, make the effort to distinguish between the two. The audience will be more accepting of your message if you present it correctly.

(image source: Wikipedia)

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