Medical microbiology, the large subset of microbiology that is applied to medicine, is a branch of medical science concerned with the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of infectious diseases. In addition, this field of science studies various clinical applications of microbes for the improvement of health. There are four kinds of microorganisms that cause infectious disease: bacteria, fungi, parasites and viruses, and one type of infectious protein called prion.
A medical microbiologist studies the characteristics of pathogens, their modes of transmission, mechanisms of infection and growth. Using this information, a treatment can be devised. Medical microbiologists often serve as consultants for physicians, providing identification of pathogens and suggesting treatment options. Other tasks may include the identification of potential health risks to the community or monitoring the evolution of potentially virulent or resistant strains of microbes, educating the community and assisting in the design of health practices. They may also assist in preventing or controlling epidemics and outbreaks of disease. Not all medical microbiologists study microbial pathology; some study common, non-pathogenic species to determine whether their properties can be used to develop antibiotics or other treatment methods.