What are four ways in which pathogens are transmitted?

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Jul 30, 2016


Here are four ways in which pathogens are transmitted.


1. By inhalation (through the nose)

When you cough or sneeze, tiny droplets fly out of your mouth and nose.


If you have an infection, those droplets will contain microorganisms.

Other people can breathe in the droplets, along with the viruses and bacteria they contain.

Diseases such as the common cold and tuberculosis are spread in this way

2. By ingestion (through the mouth)

Eating spoiled food and contaminated drinking water means you ingest large numbers of microorganisms like Salmonella and E. coli.


3. By direct contact (through breaks in the skin)

Pathogens can enter the body from body fluids such as blood and semen, through cuts and scratches, and through needle punctures.


Sexually transmitted diseases, hepatitis, and HIV/AIDS are often spread by this route.

4. By vectors (usually through the skin or by ingestion)

A vector is an animal that spreads disease-causing organisms from one host to another without suffering any harm itself.

Vectors include mosquitoes (malaria and Zika virus) and houseflies (dysentery).


Anopheles albimanus (above) is one of the main vectors of malaria in countries surrounding the Caribbean.

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