Bacteria and Viruses Breann Johnson COM/155 03/17/2013 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, hronic 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 nfections, 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 antibiotics have no effect concerning fighting off viruses.
In many cases, it may be difficult to determine if a person’s symptoms are caused by a bacterial or viral infection. One way to find out is to consult a doctor. If a doctor prescribes antibiotics the symptoms must be caused by a bacterial infection, because doctors generally will not prescribe antibiotics for viral infections. Taking antibiotics to fight viral infections not only is ineffective, but also it can be harmful to the health of a person, or they may suffer from side effects. In fact, 1 out of every 40,000 people develops an allergic reaction from taking antibiotics when unnecessary. Taking ntibiotics when not needed has led to the growth of several strains of bacteria that have become resistant to antibiotic treatment. Furthermore, viruses are very harmful, but bacteria can be helpful in many ways. Although some bacteria cause diseases, studies show less than 1% of bacteria are harmful to people. Some bacteria live in the body and help with the digestion of food. To be quite honest, humans could not survive without bacteria. Bacteria and viruses can be transmitted in different ways. Bacteria can be transmitted by touching non-living objects such as shopping carts or door knobs, but viruses cannot. In addition, bacteria and iruses can be transmitted in some of the same ways. Both can be transmitted from person to person, through contaminated food, and through body fluids such as blood, saliva, or semen. There are steps that can be taken to try to prevent the spread of viruses and bacteria. Bacteria and viruses are everywhere, but practicing healthy behaviors can prevent the spread of them. When a person sneezes or coughs they should make sure their mouth and nose is covered. One of the most important things people can do to prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses is to make sure their hands are clean by washing them or using sanitizer frequently.
It is also important to wear a mask, or avoid having contact with anyone who may show symptoms of an illness. In conclusion, most bacteria are essential to the survival of humans and assist the body in some functions, while most viruses only harm the body. If a person has a viral infection they should let their immune system fight it off. Although, a person may need to seek medical treatment, to get antibiotics, if they are showing signs of a bacterial infection. It is important not to ask for antibiotics when they are not needed. It is reported that more than 133 million courses of antibiotics are prescribed each year, but ore than half of these prescriptions are not needed. Some people think the biggest contrast between bacteria and viruses is that antibiotics kill bacteria, but they have no affect against viruses. In addition, bacteria and viruses are found in the air, on food, objects, and people. It is important that people try to prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses. One thing is certain, bacteria and viruses affect the human body in many ways. Reference: (http://www. mayoclinic. com) (http://www. webmd. com) (http://www. betterhealth. vic. gov) (http://www. ncbi. nlm. nih. gov) (http://www. acponline. org)