Bacteria of low virulence can cause serious, even fatal, infections in individuals whose only defect is a structural abnormality of the heart. A systemic infection represents failure of the body's mechanisms for keeping infections localized to one area. The inflammatory response, although vitally important in localizing infections, can be life threatening if generalized. People die of Gram-negative septicemia despite antibacterial therapy because of the endotoxin-mediated release of cytokines in the lung and bloodstream.
■ What is a "systemic" infection?
■ What is the difference between bacteremia and septicemia?
■ Why might two or more antimicrobials be used together?
■ Why might clots on the heart valves make microorganisms inaccessible to phagocytic killing?
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