Infectious Pathogens

The spread of illness is a major concern for both medical professionals and the general population alike. As diseases continue to evolve and change with the continued use of medication, it’s more important than ever that infectious conditions are quickly and accurately identified and communicated.

At Captiva Lab, we are able to use our advanced screening processes to isolate a wide range of bacterial, viral, and parasitic infectious diseases, helping to serve both you and your patient community as effectively as possible.

What Is an Infectious Disease?

According to the World Health Organization, an infectious disease is any disease caused by pathogenic microorganisms, like bacteria, parasites, or viruses, that can be spread directly or indirectly between people. The name may sound alarming – the idea of contagious conditions that spread through microorganisms implies serious illnesses that can cause widespread problems – but the reality is a little more benign; the common cold or the flu, for example, are considered infectious diseases. However, there are a number of infectious diseases that can be extremely contagious and challenging to treat, so proper detection is critically important.

The nature of a particular disease can play a large role in treatment options and containment. In general, most infectious diseases come in one of three forms: bacteria, viruses, or parasites.

Bacterial Pathogen

Simply put, pathogenic bacteria refers to any one-celled bacterial organism that can cause disease. There is no parameter on severity or intensity; any bacteria that has the ability to transmit a disease of any kind qualifies. Despite the significant number of infectious diseases that can affect humans, there are thought to be fewer than 100 strains of bacteria that contribute to these kinds of conditions.

Bacteria can be transmitted in numerous ways, including in the air, by touch, through sexual activity, and in a cut or opening in the skin. Bacterial diseases come in many forms, ranging from largely inconsequential to deeply serious, with common conditions including:

  • Tuberculosis, caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis
  • Pneumonia, caused by the bacteria Streptococcus and Pseudomonas
  • Foodborne illnesses, caused by bacteria like Salmonella and Shigella

Many bacterial pathogens can be treated with antibiotics like penicillin and amoxicillin. In addition, bacteria can be killed with the use of antiseptic disinfectants, like bleach.

Viral Pathogen

A viral pathogen refers to any disease-causing virus, or a microscopic infectious agent that replicates only within the cells of other living organisms. Viruses are extremely common, and can cause influenza, colds, Ebola, AIDS, and SARS. Viruses can also be causative agents, contributing to initial diseases that can eventually evolve into more serious conditions. Some forms of virus can cause chronic or long-term illnesses that are challenging or impossible to treat. Transmission is generally either vertical, from mother to child, or horizontal, from person to person.

Viruses cannot be killed with antibiotics but must be treated with antiviral drugs or prevented via vaccines. These kinds of conditions are often harder to treat than bacterial infections as more complex biological processes are required to address the presence of a virus.

Parasitic Pathogen

A parasitic pathogen refers to a parasite that can cause disease in humans. Parasites come in many forms in nature, but only several are able to infect humans. Parasite transmission most commonly occurs via insect bites or contaminated food and water and are most common in tropical and sub-tropical locations. Unlike viruses and bacteria, parasites are generally not contagious between humans. While there are no vaccines for parasites currently, most can be treated easily with antiparasitic drugs. Common parasites include:

  • Hookworms
  • Tapeworms

  • Roundworms
  • Scabies

  • Toxoplasma

How to Identify Pathogens

While some diseases can be diagnosed somewhat accurately through examination and non-invasive in-office tests, confirmatory test results require laboratory-grade testing. By taking biological samples and processing them accordingly, it is possible to identify a wide range of infectious diseases, including bacterial, viral, and parasitic options. This can ensure completeness and accuracy, providing a definitive answer rather than observational speculation.

Bacterial vs. Viral Diseases

As doctors are well aware, particularly those working in internal medicine or family medicine, using symptoms to diagnose a patient can be quite hit or miss, particularly during a flu season or other situation with heightened exposure to various infectious diseases. In many cases, bacterial and viral diseases can manifest in similar ways, leading to the misdiagnosis of a bacterial pathogen as a viral one, or vice versa. While seemingly understandable and inconsequential, this can actually be a serious problem. Due to the differences in treating bacterial pathogens versus viral ones, mistaking the two can lead to ineffective treatments or further propagation of unnecessary antibiotic use.

Infectious Disease Screenings

For medical professionals dedicated to a legitimate and verifiable diagnosis, panels from Captiva Lab can make all the difference. Utilizing a simple swab as a biological specimen for most tests, we are able to screen for a full range of common and uncommon ailments for the benefit of your practice. Our available panels include:

Vaginitis/Vaginosis

Infections including STI's and other bacteria.

Wound Panel

Testing for common diseases common to open wounds

Meningitis Panel

Meningitis, when contracted, can be life-threatening.

Gastroenteritis Panel

Inflammation of the stomach and intestine

UTI Panel

Testing the most common bacterial pathogens.

STI Swab-based

Most common STIs, tested by swabs.

STI - Urine

Urine-Based Testing for Sexually Transmitted Disease.

Respiratory Pathogen Panel

Testing Pneumonia, Strep and more.

Vaginitis/Vaginosis

Referring to an infection of the vagina caused by both sexually transmitted infections and other forms of bacteria, vaginitis/vaginosis can be uncomfortable, awkward, and potentially dangerous. This panel screens for bacterial vaginosis and candidiasis as well as STIs and genital ulcers, including forms of the herpes virus. The testing specimen can be acquired via an e-swab or cervical brush.

Wound Panel

Open wounds are often highly susceptible to infectious disease, providing an entrance into the body for both bacterial and viral pathogens. As such, patients with injuries are often at risk for serious illnesses, like Staphylococcus aureus. These kinds of infections can be hard to treat and are potentially life-threatening for patients with compromised immune systems, particularly in a hospital setting. Wound panels use an e-swab to test for many common pathogens that can contribute to disease within the body.

Meningitis Panel

An inflammation of the membranes around the brain and spinal cord, meningitis can be a potentially dangerous condition that is common in communal areas, like schools and college dorms. It is generally viral in nature, but bacterial and fungal varieties do exist. While some cases of meningitis can be vaccinated against, contraction can be potentially life-threatening, making early detection essential. Our meningitis panel uses cerebrospinal fluid to screen for all major bacterial and viral strains.

Gastroenteritis Panel

Gastroenteritis is an inflammation of the stomach and intestines that is frequently referred to as the stomach flu. While rarely serious, gastroenteritis can occasionally be severe and challenging to treat. Our gastroenteritis panel uses a fecal swab to test for common strains of bacteria, viruses, and stool parasites.

Urine Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) Panel

Similar to the swab panel, our urine STI test looks for common bacterial pathogens that can be transmitted through sexual contact. Unlike the swab panel, this panel does not test for the herpes virus.

Respiratory Pathogen Panel

Respiratory pathogens can contribute to serious conditions like pneumonia, strep throat, and tuberculosis. Using an e-swab, our panel tests for both bacterial and viral conditions that can cause infectious diseases, including influenza, SARS, pneumonia, and salmonella.

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) Panel

Associated with painful urination and pelvic discomfort, UTIs are common in both men and women. However, lack of prompt treatment can result in other issues, including possible pelvic inflammatory disease and the associated side effects. Our UTI panels use a urine test to screen for the most common bacterial pathogens.

Swab Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) Panel

One of the most common forms of infectious disease, one in two people will contract an STI before age 25. While largely treatable with early detection, STIs can have harmful ramifications when not addressed in a reasonable time frame. Using an e-swab, this panel screens for common forms of STIs, including chlamydia and both herpes simplex one and two.

Other Pathogens

If the standard panels are not appropriate, we also offer selected additional tests that can screen for:

  • Human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Helicobacter pylori
  • Mumps
  • Measles

For medical practices, hospitals, and clinics, access to effective and accurate laboratory testing for infectious disease can play a critical role in ensuring correct diagnoses and proper treatments. Captiva Lab is available to provide comprehensive testing for your patients, offering flexible resources to improve quality of care.

Sources

  • http://www.who.int/topics/infectious_diseases/en/
  • https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/infectious-diseases/expert-answers/infectious-disease/faq-20058098
  • http://www.forensicsciencesimplified.org/tox/how.html

Learn More About Our Services: (877)775-0990

Speak to a service representative today for more information.