Pathogens are microorganisms such as viruses and bacteria that cause infectious diseases in animals and plants. They depend on their host to provide the conditions and nutrients that they need to grow and reproduce. They frequently produce toxins that damage tissues and make us feel ill. This section will explore how we can avoid diseases by reducing contact with them, as well as how the body uses barriers against pathogens. Once inside the body our immune system is triggered which is usually strong enough to destroy the pathogen and prevent disease. When at risk from unusual or dangerous diseases our body’s natural system can be enhanced by the use of vaccination. Since the 1940s a range of antibiotics have been developed which have proved successful against a number of lethal diseases caused by bacteria. Unfortunately many groups of bacteria have now become resistant to these antibiotics. The race is now on to develop a new set of antibiotics.