Microbes Can Cause Different Kinds of InfectionsSome disease-causing microbes can make you very sick quickly and then not bother you again. Some can last for a long time and continue to damage tissues. Others can last forever, but you won’t feel sick anymore, or you will feel sick only once in a while. Most infections caused by microbes fall into three major groups:
- Acute infections
- Chronic infections
- Latent infections
Chickenpox is another example of a latent infection. Before the chickenpox vaccine became available in the 1990s, most children in the United States got chickenpox. After the first acute episode, usually when children are very young, the Varicella zoster virus goes into hiding in the body. In many people, it emerges many years later when they are older adults and causes a painful disease of the nerves called herpes zoster, or shingles.
Researchers are studying what turns these microbial antics off and on and are looking for ways to finally stop the process.