Pathogenic bacteria are bacteria that can cause disease. This article deals with human pathogenic bacteria. Although most bacteria are harmless or often beneficial, some are pathogenic, with the number of species estimated as fewer than 100 that are seen to cause infectious diseases in humans. By contrast, several thousand species exist in the human digestive system.
One of the bacterial diseases with the highest disease burden is tuberculosis, caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which kills about 2 million people a year, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa. Pathogenic bacteria contribute to other globally important diseases, such as pneumonia, which can be caused by bacteria such as Streptococcus and Pseudomonas, and foodborne illnesses, which can be caused by bacteria such as Shigella, Campylobacter, and Salmonella. Pathogenic bacteria also cause infections such as tetanus, typhoid fever, diphtheria, syphilis, and leprosy. Pathogenic bacteria are also the cause of high infant mortality rates in developing countries.
Koch's postulates are the standard to establish a causative relationship between a microbe and a disease.