The role of pathologists who specialise in microbiology or virology is to examine, diagnose, treat and prevent the spread of infection in hospitals and in the community. So if there's an outbreak of food poisoning, meningitis or a nasty type of flu in your area, you can be sure that it is being investigated by a microbiology laboratory.
Many organisms can cause infections, including bacteria, viruses and fungi. A microbiologist uses the laboratory to identify invading organisms and test different medicines to find the most effective treatment. Advising on the appropriate use of antibiotics is particularly important at a time when many bacteria are developing resistance to their effects.
By studying how a patient became infected, microbiologists also take action to prevent the spread of infection. So you will often see a microbiologist on ward rounds or in the clinic, helping to stop infections before they can spread to other people.
Microbiology is the diagnosis of infection caused by bacteria, fungi and parasites; identification of the best treatment options for infection; and the monitoring of antibiotic resistance.
Clinical virologists concentrate on the diagnosis and management of patients with virus infections.