Writing a paper about a disease or an infectious agent

Writing a paper about a disease or an infectious agent
Writing about diseases or infectious agents is part of the work carried out by microbiologists. All
research involving infectious agents or the diseases that they cause must be covered according to the
following headings:
• General description of the agent or the disease. If you are writing about the bacterium,
Staphylococcus aureus, you will describe it as a Gram positive, coagulase positive cocci that
appear in clusters and are golden yellow on Nutrient agar, etc. On the other hand, if you are
writing about the disease gonorrhoea, you will describe it as a sexually transmitted infection
caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae. It produces inflammation and infection of the
lining of the genital tract, throat, and rectum, etc. The goal is to describe the agent or the
disease in a way that those familiar with it can easily recognize it.
• Significance: In this section, you need to discuss why this organism or disease is important and
what makes it important. A disease or infectious agent may be important because it kills a lot of
people, or affects a lot of people, or produces a lot of complications or costs a lot of money to
treat or is difficult to diagnose, etc. When you discuss this area, you need to use data effectively
in order to show that this disease or infectious agent is worthy of the discussion.
• General Symptoms: In this section you will need to inform your reader how they can recognize
this illness or infection caused by the agent. For example, how long does it take from the first
contact with the agent to the time the symptoms manifest and what are those symptoms? Are
symptoms different in males and females, adults and infants?
• Pathogenesis: In this section, you will need to inform your reader about what is known about
the mechanism of disease causation. Every infectious agent causes disease because it has
something that enables it to overpower or evade the immune system. For example, the three
major causative agents of bacterial meningitis – Streptococcus pneumoniae, Neisseria
meningitidis and Haemophilus influenzae are all capsulated. The capsules enable them to evade
• Laboratory Diagnosis: In this section you are required to discuss the types of specimens
required for diagnosis, how they should be collected, when they should be collected and what
type of tests are required. You will also discuss the results that will confirm diagnosis.
• Treatment: This usually involves the use of chemical agents to get rid of the infectious agent or
disease symptoms. Duration of treatment should also be discussed.
• Prevention: This entails discussing the usual personal strategies to avoid infection or the
disease. This section may involve hygiene or avoiding infected persons, etc. It also involves the
use of prophylactic agents like vaccines or chemicals.
• Literature Cited
This section lists all articles or books cited in your report. Different journals require different
formats for citing literature. For scientific writings we use the Harvard and Vancouver styles of