Throughout the history of mankind, nature has unleashed it’s two favorite demons to inflict, pain, suffering and death on the world.

Millions of people have died over the ages due to diseases such as the Bubonic plague or the Black Death, which is caused by Yersinia Pestis bacteria and resulted in killing over 25 million people, and Smallpox, which is caused by the Virola Virus and has resulted in the death of over 300 million people in the 20th century alone. Today, the most deadly viral infection of the 21st century is the coronavirus or covid-19 which has killed over 17,000 people in 4 months and this number is expected to grow!

Although, Viruses and Bacteria are distinct from each other there are certain similarities between them. Both virus and bacteria are infectious diseases and are caused by microbes and spread by things such as,

  • Sneezing and coughing
  • Physical interaction with infected people
  • Physical interaction with contaminated surfaces
  • Contact with infected animals

Viral and bacterial infections can cause similar symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, fever, inflammation, diarrhea, fatigue and  vomiting – all of these side-effects are ways the immune system tries to get rid of the infectious organisms.

But there are stark differences between the two,

1- Bacteria

Simply put, Bacteria are microscopic living organisms, usually one-celled, that can be found everywhere – bread, yogurt, dirt, and inside the human body.

When a bacteria enters a human body, it invades human cells, stealing essential nutrients and excreting poisons. This poison can make people sick, can cause skin infections, and are generally harmful for people.

The medication used to kill bacteria are called “anti-biotic”. Sicknesses such as sore throats, runny nose and upset stomach are caused by viruses and anti-biotic cannot cure those.

The best way to protect against bacterial infection is washing hands, especially after using the washroom.

Most bacteria are harmless. Some even help the human body by digesting food, destroying disease-causing microbes, fighting cancer cells, and providing essential nutrients. Less than 1% of bacteria cause diseases in people.

2- Viruses

The word “virus” originates from the Latin word for “poison” or “simply liquid”.

A virus is an infectious agent that multiplies inside the cells of a living host. In simple words, when a virus invades living cells, it uses the cells’ chemical machinery to keep itself alive and to replicate itself.

It might sound scary, but viruses are not alive, as they do not have cells (they cannot convert food into energy) but they aren’t exactly dead, either (they have genes and they reproduce). Kind of like a zombie.

Viruses don’t eat and they don’t sleep. Their only job is to duplicate and spread. It is not classed as a living organism in the traditional sense because it doesn’t do anything similar to what a bacteria does i.e. eat, sleep and excrete.

In order to prevent the spread of a virus, hygienic factors such as efficient sanitation, waste disposal, personal cleanliness and clean water are essential. Immunization by vaccines has also proven to be an effective combative measure against the spread of a virus.

 

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