Contrasting Bacterial Virulence and Resistance

Virulence refers to the pathogenicity or disease severity produced by an organism. Many bacteria may produce toxins or possess growth characteristics that contribute to their pathogenicity. Some virulence factors allow the organism to avoid the immune response of the host and cause significant disease. Virulence and resistance are different microbial characteristics. For example, Streptococcus pyogenes, a common cause of skin infections, produces toxins that can cause severe disease, yet it is very susceptible to penicillin. Enterococcusfaecium is a highly resistant organism but is frequently a colonizing flora that causes disease primarily in the immunocompromised.

FIGURE 69-1. Normal flora and concentrations of bacteria (organisms per milliliter).
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