How Infections Spread | Infection Control

A susceptible person is someone who is not vaccinated or otherwise immune, or a person with a weakened immune system who has a way for the germs to enter the body. For an infection to occur, germs must enter a susceptible person’s body and invade tissues, multiply, and cause a reaction.

Devices like IV catheters and surgical incisions can provide an entryway, whereas a healthy immune system helps fight infection.

When patients are sick and receive medical treatment in healthcare facilities, the following factors can increase their susceptibility to infection.

  • Patients in healthcare who have underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, cancer, and organ transplantation are at increased risk for infection because often these illnesses decrease the immune system’s ability to fight infection.
  • Certain medications used to treat medical conditions, such as antibiotics, steroids, and certain cancer fighting medications increase the risk of some types of infections.
  • Lifesaving medical treatments and procedures used in healthcare such as urinary catheters, tubes, and surgery increase the risk of infection by providing additional ways that germs can enter the body.

Recognizing the factors that increase patients’ susceptibility to infection allows providers to recognize risks and perform basic infection prevention measures to prevent infection from occurring.

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