Explore the Difference Between Pathogen and Parasite

The difference between Pathogen and Parasite is easy to understand:

  • Pathogen is an organism that causes diseases to the host after infection
  • Parasite is an organism that lives on or in another organism of another species. It usually derives nutrients at the expense of its host

In this article, we shall explore more differences between the two in detail:

Difference Between Pathogen and Parasite
Pathogen
Parasite
Pathogens usually kill their host through diseases. Most parasites do not kill their host but do cause some damage.
Pathogens typically do not require a host to complete its life cycle. Parasites will have to depend on their host to complete their life cycle.
Pathogenicity is the ability of an organism to infect another organism (host). Parasitism can be considered as a kind of interaction between two species, where one species is benefitted and other is harmed.

Pathogens and Parasites

If we take a closer look at these two terms, they are related. For instance, pathogens are disease-causing organisms which are taxonomically diverse – these include bacteria, protozoans, fungi and even non-living entities such as viruses. On the other hand, parasites are organisms that obtain nutrition at the expense of the host. Examples of parasites also include bacteria, protozoans and fungi. However, not all parasites are detrimental to their host – for example – a species of bacterium called Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron lives inside the human gut and they provide no known benefit nor cause harm (do note that they are opportunistic pathogens). All pathogens are parasites. But not all parasites are pathogens.

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Frequently Asked Questions on Pathogen and Parasite

What is the difference between Pathogen and Parasite?

The pathogen is an organism that causes diseases to the host after infection. The parasite is an organism that lives on or in another organism of another species. It usually derives nutrients at the expense of its host.

Do parasites cause diseases?

Some parasites cause diseases. For example, head louse is an ecoparasite on humans. It does not cause any diseases. Meanwhile, roundworms cause the disease known as Ascariasis.

What is a pathogen?

Disease-causing organisms are known as pathogens and the diseases caused by them are pathogenic diseases. These diseases are usually communicable. For example, cholera is a pathogenic disease caused by Vibrio cholerae.

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