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Normal Flora.


Davis CP.


In: Baron S1, editor.


Medical Microbiology. 4th edition. Galveston (TX): University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston; 1996. Chapter 6.

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University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, Galveston, Texas


A diverse microbial flora is associated with the skin and mucous membranes of every human being from shortly after birth until death. The human body, which contains about 1013 cells, routinely harbors about 1014 bacteria (Fig. 6-1). This bacterial population constitutes the normal microbial flora . The normal microbial flora is relatively stable, with specific genera populating various body regions during particular periods in an individual's life. Microorganisms of the normal flora may aid the host (by competing for microenvironments more effectively than such pathogens as Salmonella spp or by producing nutrients the host can use), may harm the host (by causing dental caries, abscesses, or other infectious diseases), or may exist as commensals (inhabiting the host for long periods without causing detectable harm or benefit). Even though most elements of the normal microbial flora inhabiting the human skin, nails, eyes, oropharynx, genitalia, and gastrointestinal tract are harmless in healthy individuals, these organisms frequently cause disease in compromised hosts. Viruses and parasites are not considered members of the normal microbial flora by most investigators because they are not commensals and do not aid the host.

Copyright © 1996, The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.

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