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meaning of the word "agent"


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#1 josse

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Posted 09 July 2009 - 08:41 AM

I have the following sentence:

Listonella anguillarum is the most important etiological agent of vibriosis.

Now what does this mean?
Does it simply mean that the majority of vibriosis cases is caused by Listonella anguillarum ?
(or in other words that Listonella anguillarum is the most important bacteria in the whole vibriosis story)

Or does the agent mean a specific thing?

thanks in advance.

Edited by josse, 09 July 2009 - 10:12 AM.


#2 HomeBrew

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Posted 09 July 2009 - 10:25 AM

It means that vibriosis is most frequently caused by Listonella anguillarum, or in the pantheon of causes of vibriosis, Listonella anguillarum is the most important, or that the most severe (and thus important) cases of vibriosis are caused by Listonella anguillarum:


eˇtiˇolˇoˇgy n.
  • The study of causes or origins.
  • The branch of medicine that deals with the causes or origins of disease.

etiˇoˇlogiˇcal adj.
  • of or relating to the philosophical study of causation
  • relating to the etiology of a disease; "etiological agent"

aˇgent n.
  • One that acts or has the power or authority to act.
  • One empowered to act for or represent another: an author's agent; an insurance agent.
  • A means by which something is done or caused; instrument.
  • A force or substance that causes a change: a chemical agent; an infectious agent.
  • A representative or official of a government or administrative department of a government: an FBI agent.
  • A spy.
  • Linguistics The noun or noun phrase that specifies the person through whom or the means by which an action is effected.

You could as easily say "Listonella anguillarum is the most important cause of vibriosis."

Why it is the "most important" is undefined in the sentence -- "most important", as I said above, could be due to the frequency with which Listonella anguillarum is found to be the cause of vibriosis compared to other causes, or the severity of the vibriosis caused by Listonella anguillarum as opposed to the severity of the disease when caused by other agents.

#3 josse

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Posted 09 July 2009 - 10:34 AM

OK, that is what I was thinking.
Thanks a lot HomeBrew

#4 HomeBrew

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Posted 09 July 2009 - 10:40 AM

No problem -- glad to help.

#5 GeorgeWolff

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Posted 10 July 2009 - 08:44 AM

For vibriosis and the species identified - importance here prob has an economic aspect as well. Vibrio angulllarum vibriosis disease is a major obstacle for salmonid marine culture.

#6 HomeBrew

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Posted 11 July 2009 - 10:18 AM

Yes, you're right -- "most important" could also be so in economic terms -- that didn't occur to me.




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