Virus y bacteria

Bacteria and viruses are the most common causes of disease in humans. When you touch a surface, shake hands, or expose yourself to someone’s sneeze, you come into contact with new bacteria, and potentially new viruses, which can enter the body when you touch your mouth, nose, or eyes. Here you will find all the differences between bacteria and viruses , how to prevent their spread, and how to treat bacterial or viral infections if you have them.

Virus

Bacteria

DefinitionViruses are not considered living organisms. They are usually harmful.Bacteria are single-celled living organisms. They are not usually harmful.
SizeViruses are submicroscopicBatteries are gigantic compared to viruses
How they surviveViruses only grow and reproduce within the cells they infect. When outside these living cells, viruses are inactive. Therefore, its “life” requires the biochemical activities of living cells.Batteries are living organisms consisting of a single cell that can generate energy, produce its own food, move, and reproduce (usually by binary fission). This allows bacteria to live in many places – land, water, plants, and the human body – and serve many purposes.
InfectionsA viral infection is systemic. Viruses infect one host cell and then multiply by the thousands, leaving the host cell and infecting other cells in the body.Bacterial infection is generally limited to one part of the body, described as a localized infection. Infections can be caused by bacteria or by toxins (endotoxins) produced
 Diseases that produceSystemic diseases caused by viral infection include influenza, measles, polio, AIDS, and COVID-19Bacterial diseases include pneumonia, tuberculosis, tetanus, and food poisoning.

Biological difference between bacteria and viruses

Bacteria are single-celled organisms that live around us, even inside our intestines. Most bacteria are not harmful, and some are even protective. However, a small percentage can be harmful and cause illness .

Viruses are parasites , which means that they need a living host to survive. Viruses infect the cells of living things, including humans, and can cause illnesses such as the common cold or AIDS. Although most viruses are potentially harmful, some can actually be beneficial.

Bacteria are living organisms that reproduce by dividing in half (they can double in numbers every 20 minutes). That is why, although they are small, bacteria can have a great impact on our health. Humans have trillions of bacteria in and on their bodies, and most of them keep us healthy by supporting bodily functions like digestion. However, about 1% of bacteria can cause illness , says Mark G. Albert, MD, such as:

  • Staphylococcus aureus, which can cause upper respiratory infections.
  • Klebsiella and Streptococcus Pneumoniae, which can cause pneumonia.
  • E. coli and Salmonella, found in undercooked meat, can cause food poisoning.

On the other hand, viruses are not considered living organisms , because they need a host cell to reproduce. Like bacteria, viruses spread when they come in contact with the host. Once you have come into contact with a virus, it attacks healthy cells in your body, reproduces them, and spreads throughout the body. However, your immune system attacks most harmful viruses before they can have an impact, says Erin Nance, MD.

While bacterial infections are generally limited to one area of ​​the body, such as an ear infection or strep throat, viral infections tend to spread more easily and affect the entire body. These include:

  • Common cold, which is usually caused by rhinovirus. Symptoms are centered around the head and chest and include a sore throat, sneezing, and coughing.
  • Flu, which is caused by the influenza virus. Symptoms include fever, cough, and aches.
  • Coronavirus, or COVID-19, which is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

How to prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses

Despite their differences, bacteria and viruses they are susceptible to soap and disinfectant hand . Soap and water are the first-line defense, and if you don’t have access to soap and water, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Research has found that proper hand washing reduces the number of bacteria and viruses by killing them and removing them from the skin.

The most important thing is to practice good hygiene when washing your hands: wash with soap and water for 20 seconds and pat dry . Do this frequently after touching common surfaces such as computer keyboards, railings, elevator buttons, and ATMs.

In fact, a 2018 study published in the journal Pediatrics found that best hand-washing practices in daycare centers, such as using soap and water, or hand sanitizer, led to fewer sick days, fewer infections, and fewer prescriptions. of antibiotics. In addition to doing the latter, try to avoid touching your face. Microorganisms enter our body through the mucous membranes of our face .

Covering your coughs and sneezes is also important, as the droplets of fluid that come out of your body when you cough or sneeze can contain viruses or bacteria. If you are sick, stay home and away from other people to avoid inadvertently spreading your virus or bacteria.

To disinfect surfaces, bleach or alcohol are effective options , as they kill bacteria and viruses instantly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend sanitizing with a solution that contains at least 70% alcohol.

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