2.9 How Disease Develops During Infection

When a pathogen enters our body, we are at risk of developing an infectious disease. However, we do not always get sick in response to such exposure because our immune system suppresses the threat immediately, or the pathogen does not cause us any harm.

When pathogens start to multiply in our body, our cells are affected, and we start experiencing disease symptoms. In this situation, our body is under attack by pathogens, and our immune system tries to combat them by using white blood cells, antibodies, and other immune mechanisms.

Most of the symptoms we experience are a direct result of pathogen-immune system battle. For example, our body temperature rises to fight off the pathogens that cannot survive in heat, which causes us to develop a fever.

Depending on the type of pathogen, our body produces different immune responses and experiences different symptoms. Viruses impact our cellular function and kill cells. In this situation, the body often produces interferon, a chemical that blocks the virus from reproducing.

On the other hand, many bacteria overcome immune responses by multiplying rapidly and damaging normal cellular functions. Bacteria can often produce toxins in our body, demanding a harsher immune response and medical intervention.

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