b. Sepsis. If the infectious process cannot be localized in the wound area by
the body's defenses, it eventually spreads so that a generalized septic condition or
septicemia develops. This may result in shock that can lead to death.
CYCLE OF INFECTION
Prevention and control of infection is of vital importance to the patient as well as
to health care personnel. In order to provide proper care for patients with
communicable diseases or infectious organisms, you should understand the
components of infection and the methods to control the cycle of infection. The cycle of
infection (see figure 1-1) is like a chain consisting of six links. To produce disease,
each link of the infectious process must be present in a logical sequence. Removing
one link in the chain will control the cycle of infection. The six links are discussed in the
Figure 1-1. The cycle of infection.
a. Infectious Microorganisms (Agent). These are the pathogens that cause
b. Reservoir. The reservoir (source) is the person or animal that has the
disease. Sometimes a person may have a disease but is not ill. This type of person is
called a carrier. The carrier known as Typhoid Mary is a classic example. She was a
food worker in a restaurant who spread the disease typhoid by contaminating the foods
she handled. Other examples of reservoirs are a person with a common cold, a person
with malaria, a person with syphilis, a rat with plague, and a bat with rabies.