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A pathogen, (from Greek πάθος pathos "suffering, passion", and γἰγνομαι (γεν-) gignomai (gen-) "I give birth to") an infectious agent, or more commonly germ, is a biological agent that causes disease to its host. There are several substrates and pathways whereby pathogens can invade a host; the principal pathways have different episodic time frames, but soil contamination has the longest or most persistent potential for harboring a pathogen.

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