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Definition

Collective name for microscopic organisms that includes bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites.

Use in clinical context

Microorganisms are either pathogenic or non-pathogenic, but this can depend on the context. For instance, there are microorganisms that live on the skin and cause no problems, but they can cause sepsis if they enter the blood. The most well known are those that cause illnesses such as E. coli, but there are many living in and on the body that perform important roles in maintaining health. Examples include those involved in breaking down food or keeping other infectious microorganisms at bay. Microorganisms have their own genomes, the analysis of which can be important in identifying pathogens, tracing the epidemiology of outbreaks and determining appropriate treatment.

Related terms

Genome | Organism | Pathogenic | Pathogens

Last updated on 12th November, 2019