Microorganism (microbe): A microorganism (microbe) is a small living plant or animal (organism), and can only be seen with a microscope. Microbes are in the mouth, nose, respiratory tract, stomach, intestines, and on the skin. A microbe may be normal flora that lives in or on your body to keep other microbes in check. They work as a balancing system. When these normal floras get out of balance, it can cause an infection. Microorganisms are in the air, soil, water, and food. They are on animals, clothing, and furniture. There are several types of microbes. Bacteria, often called Germs, are one simple cell that cannot be classified as plant or animal. They can cause infection in any body part or system.
Fungi: Fungi are cells that live on other plants or animals. This makes them parasitic. Mushrooms, yeasts, and molds are common fungi. Fungi can infect the mouth, vagina, skin, feet, and other body areas. They like warm, dark, moist places to grow and develop.
Protozoa: Protozoa are single celled animals. They can infect the blood, brain, intestines, and other body areas.
Rickettsia: Rickettsia is bacteria passed on by fleas, lice, ticks, and other insects. This bacterium is spread to humans through insect bites.
Viruses: Viruses contain incomplete DNA, and are not a living organism until they find a host, and grow inside other living cells. The common cold, herpes, flu, and AIDs are examples of viruses.
Pathogens and Non Pathogens: Microbes that are harmful and cause infection are pathogens. Non-pathogens are microbes that do not usually cause an infection.
Infection: An infection is an illness or disease resulting from the invasion and growth of microbes in the body. Infections are either local or systemic. Local infections involve a body part and systemic infections involve the whole body, or one system.
Asepsis: Asepsis means that there are no pathogens present. This concept refers to the clean environment that you need to create in your patient’s home.