University of Phoenix
Bacteria and Viruses
Almost 56,000 people are hospitalized each year, and over 1,300 die because of
food borne bacteria and virus microbes. Bacteria and viruses are tiny microscopic
pathogens that can cause infectious disease, or even result in death. “Infectious
diseases remain a major cause of death, disability, social, and economic disorders for
millions of people around the world. Poor health care, poverty, human migration,
emerging disease agents, and antibiotic resistance all contribute to the expanding
impact of infectious diseases.” However, there are several defense mechanisms that
can be utilized, in an effort, to protect against invasion and decrease susceptibility of the
diseases caused by bacteria and viruses. Although bacteria and viruses have many
similarities, their differences are most evident in the ways they affect the human body.
Bacteria and viruses share some similarities. For instance, both bacterial and viral
infections are caused by a microbe. Bacterial or viral infections occur when microbes
enter a body and reproduce. Once the microbes reproduce they can cause mild,
moderate, or severe disease. They can cause acute infections which are very brief,
chronic infections which can last anywhere from a week to a lifetime, or latent infections,
which may not have symptoms at first, but symptoms can arise over a period of months
or even years. Both bacterial and viral microbes can cause similar symptoms in a
person. Some of the symptoms include coughing, sneezing, fever, vomiting,
inflammation, fatigue, diarrhea, or cramping. The human body uses all of these
symptoms in an effort to eliminate itself of any harmful organisms. If the symptoms
become severe consulting a doctor may be necessary, because severe symptoms may
lead to serious illness or even death.
Although bacteria and viruses do share some similarities, it is important to know that
they are also different in many ways. Bacteria are so small they cannot be seen without
a microscope, but viruses are even smaller. Viruses can be up to a hundred times
smaller than the smallest bacteria. Another difference is bacteria are alive and viruses
are dead. It is essential for the survival of viruses to have a living host such as a human,
plant, or animal. Without a living host viruses will die. Bacteria, on the other hand, do
not need a living host to survive. Bacteria are living organisms and reproduce by
dividing themselves. Bacteria can also survive in a wide variety of environments. Some
bacteria survive in intense heat, while others survive in extreme cold.
It is important to know that some bacteria and most viruses make people ill. A few
diseases that can be caused by bacteria are strep throat, tuberculosis, or urinary tract
infection. Viral infections are very harmful and are responsible for causing a wide range
of diseases, some of which are chickenpox, AIDS, common cold, genital warts,
influenza, measles, and smallpox. A healthy immune system is the best defense against
viruses. Although having a healthy immune system does also help to fight off bacterial
infections, the use of antibiotics might be necessary in some cases.
Bacterial infections can be fought by the use of antibiotics. The antibiotic known as
penicillin was discovered by Alexander Fleming in 1928. The first use of antibiotics, in
the 1940s, helped many doctors in fighting off bacterial infections; as a result millions of
people’s lives were saved. Taking antibiotics either kill the bacteria, or make them
unable to reproduce. The purpose of antibiotics is to attack cells within the bacteria and
cause damage to their DNA, resulting in death.
Unlike bacteria, the use of...