Start of Main Content


What is an infection?

An infection occurs when germs or pathogens invade and then grow in the body. Possible infection-causing germs include viruses, bacteria, fungi, yeast, and other microorganisms.

An infection can begin in any one part of the body and may then spread to other regions.

When someone has an infection, there are common symptoms that they may experience, including:

  • fever
  • runny nose
  • upset stomach
  • muscle aches
  • swelling
  • swollen lymph nodes
  • rash

Some symptoms are also specific to the type of pathogen causing the infection and the part of the body affected by it.

How do infections impact healthcare?

A significant part of the healthcare field revolves around preventing the spread of infections and minimizing infection risk.

Infections signify a pathogen growing within the body, which can negatively impact health and may require healthcare interventions and treatments.

Some examples of infections include:

  • the common cold
  • candidiasis
  • COVID-19
  • food poisoning
  • meningitis
  • HIV
  • tuberculosis

One challenge with infections is their contagious nature, which can cause others to contract the pathogen and become sick. Some ways in which infections can spread include:

  • transfer of bodily fluids
  • skin contact
  • inhaling airborne droplets or particles
  • contact with feces
  • touching an object that an infected individual also touched
  • ingesting contaminated water or food