Bacteria and Viruses: Tiny Microscopic Pathogens

Pages: 8 (1141 words) Published: May 5, 2013
Bacteria and Viruses
Breann Johnson
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...
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