Immunology has its origins in the study of how the body protects itself against infectious diseases caused by microorganisms, such as bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and fungi, and also parasitic organisms, such as helminth worms.
Important initial barriers to infection are physical (e.g. the skin), enhanced by substances secreted by the body, such as saliva and tears, that contain molecules that can neutralise bacteria. The internal mucosal tissues (e.g. lungs & airways, and the gut) are coated with mucus that is able to trap potential infectants. In the airways, mobile ciliate hairs work together to transport contaminants away from vulnerable areas. Tissues such as the skin, mucosal surfaces and airways also contain populations of immune cells that can respond to infectants that breach these physical defences.