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MSN Course Insight: Six Characteristics of an Infectious Agent

Study alongside Walden University students with this required reading taken from the Master of Science in Nursing course Role of the Nurse in Public and Global Health.

Infectious diseases are on the rise in the U.S. and around the globe.1 Every year, millions die from such diseases, with lower-income nations and populations suffering the heaviest toll.2 It’s a serious problem. And it’s one you can address as part of your career in nursing.

Infectious diseases are disorders caused by organisms, such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites. Many can be transmitted from person to person, but many are also treatable or preventable. Vaccines can prevent viruses. Antibiotics can treat bacterial infections. Fungicides can treat fungal infections. And clean drinking water and better sanitary conditions can prevent parasitic infections. In other words, with better healthcare and public health programs, we can do a lot to fight infectious disease.

MSN Course Insight: Six Characteristics of an Infectious Agent

But before you can focus your nursing career on infectious disease, you need to gain a robust understanding of infections and what they do to the human body. For many nurses, that begins by honing your skills with the help of a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program. In an MSN program, you can take classes that expand your understanding of nursing, public health, and topics like infectious disease.

For example, in Walden University’s MSN program, students study Marcia Stanhope’s Public Health Nursing: Population-Centered Health Care in the Community as part of the course Role of the Nurse in Public and Global Health. In the book, Stanhope discusses the impact of infectious disease on public health and provides a quick lesson on the six characteristics that define an infectious agent. Those characteristics are:

Infectivity: The ability to enter and multiply in the host.
Pathogenicity: The ability to produce a specific clinical reaction after infection occurs.
Virulence: The ability to produce a severe pathological reaction.
Toxicity: The ability to produce a poisonous reaction.
Invasiveness: The ability to penetrate and spread throughout the tissue.
Antigenicity: The ability to stimulate an immunological response.

Understanding these six characteristics and how they work helps nurses prevent and/or treat infectious disease. But there’s much more knowledge you’ll need to learn to make a real difference—knowledge you can acquire if you earn your master’s degree in nursing.

Through a master’s in nursing program, you’ll engage in an in-depth study of nursing, disease, and other topics pertaining to health. It’s a great path if you want to become a better nurse. And it can lead to a better nursing career, as well, giving you the skills and qualifications you need to become a nurse practitioner, public health nurse, or nurse leader in another advanced nursing field, such as nursing education, nurse management, nurse mentoring, or healthcare informatics.

While many worry that earning an MSN degree will be too much to handle, there are options that can make it more possible to succeed as an MSN student. Specifically, you can attend an online nursing school.

With benefits of online learning, earning an MSN degree doesn’t have to upend your life. For one, an online MSN program won’t require you to drive to a faraway campus. For another, when you earn an MSN online, you won’t be subjected to inconvenient class times that conflict with your work schedule. Instead, in a master’s in nursing online program, you can attend nursing school from home or from anywhere else you have internet access. And you can attend class at whatever time of day works best for you and your schedule.

We need nurses who can help battle the rise of infectious disease. Thanks to online education, you can earn your MSN degree and help make the world healthier.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering an Master of Science in Nursing degree program online. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.


Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,