Epidemic! The Natural History of Disease.  At the San Diego Natural History Museum

Glossary

antibiotics
Chemical substances that can kill bacteria; they are naturally produced by microorganisms or synthetically produced in a lab.
antibodies
Proteins produced by immune system cells that bind to foreign molecules and microorganisms and inactivate them.
antigens
Molecules carried or produced by microorganisms that initiate antibody production.
B cells
Type of lymphocytes that are responsible for producing antibodies.
bacteria
A one-celled microorganism that can either help or harm the functioning of the body.
communicable
Adjective describing a sickness or disease that can be passed from person to person through some type of physical contact; contagious.
disease
An abnormal condition of body structure and function, usually indicated by symptoms.
endemic
A widespread, lower-grade infection or routine childhood disease confined to a particular region (measles, chickenpox, mumps).
epidemic
An outbreak of an acute illness that infects many individuals in a population by spreading rapidly among many people at the same time and can be difficult or impossible to contain. The occurrence of illnesses or outbreak clearly exceeds the normal expectancy in the given population at the given season of the year.
epidemiology
The study of the distribution and determinants (causes and contributing factors) of diseases/health problems in specified populations and the application of this study to control disease/health problems.
exposure
The act of coming into contact with a disease-causing microorganism; exposure may or may not lead to infection.
fungus
A type of organism such as a mushroom, yeast, or mold, that lives by decomposing and absorbing the material it grows in.
host
A person or other living animal, including birds and arthropods, that the disease-causing microbe attaches to or lives in for food and survival.
immune system
The parts of the body that prevent and fight disease.
incubation period
The period of time between the actual exposure to the disease-causing agent and the first signs of disease.
infection
What happens when a disease-causing microorganism gets past the bodyıs defenses and takes hold. Infection is not synonymous with infectious disease. When living infectious agents are present on exterior surfaces of the body, this is contamination.
infectious disease
A clinical manifest disease of humans or animals resulting from an infection.
inoculate
An inoculation is a form of vaccine. In ancient China, immunity to smallpox was achieved by blowing dust from smallpox scabs into the patient's nose.
leukocytes
White blood cells that are primarily engaged in fighting infection by eating the microbe.
lymphocytes
A type of white blood cell that is primarily responsible for the immune response; includes T cells and B cells.
macrophages
A type of white blood cell that devours the invading microbe and then assists T cells in the production of antibodies against the same type of microbe.
microbe
A microorganism.
microorganism
Any organism that can only be seen with a microscope: protozoans, bacteria, fungi, and viruses are examples of microorganisms.
outbreak
A sudden increase in the number of individuals who contract a specific infectious disease in a population, putting others at risk.
pandemic
An epidemic that occurs in many regions of the world.
parasites
Organisms that use a host organism to provide food.
pathogen
A disease-causing microbe.
< plague
Any severe epidemic when there is no known treatment or cure. From the Latin plaga, which means "blow," plagues were once believed to be a blow administered by a god.
plasma cells
Cells produced from B cells that synthesize and release antibodies.
platelets
Components of the blood that assist to stop bleeding.
quarantine
Isolation or restriction on travel intended to keep a contagious disease from spreading.
red blood cells
Cells of the blood that transport oxygen to the tissues.
T cells
The type of lymphocyte responsible for the initiation of stimulation of antibodies.
vaccine
A substance, a small amount of a dead or weakened disease-causing agent, which is administered to a person, usually by injection, which protects that person from infection by a particular microbe. If the person comes in contact with that pathogen, the body then fights it off easily and can protect against this disease in the future. This protection is called immunity.
vaccination
The process of protecting against infectious disease by introducing into the body a vaccine that stimulates a primary immune response and the production of memory cells against the disease-causing agent.
vector
Any insect or other arthropod, rodent, or other animal of public health significance capable of causing human discomfort, injury, or capable of harboring or transmitting the causative agents of human disease.
virus
A disease-causing microorganism that depends on a host cell to survive and reproduce.
white blood cells
A cell that is designed to protect the body against infection.

Teacher's Guide | Epidemic! | Exhibits