Go straight to Quiz
What is a virus?
A virus is a non-living pathogen and it is acellular
(meaning that it is a one celled organism) and extremely small. A virus cannot live on its own. This means that a virus needs to have a host in order to be able to survive and reproduce. Most viruses simply do not serve any useful purpose but not all viruses are harmful to humans.
Viruses can spread through skin contact, they can become airborne and then be breathed in, they are found in milk, can come from animal bites and they can be transmitted through sexual contact, including simple kissing. Animals are the most common carriers of viruses. These include bats, monkeys, chimpanzees, birds (including chickens), pigs, horses, dogs, foxes and all kinds of rodents (such a mice and rats). A virus cannot be killed by antibiotics because antibiotics are used to kill living organisms. Viruses are not “living.” The strongest defense against a virus is the body’s own immune system which will attack the virus. Recent studies have shown that light can also kill a virus so in some cases, lasers are being used to kill viruses.
Partial Listing of Illnesses or Diseases Caused by Viruses
(more commonly known as the flu) (originates in birds, pigs and horses)
(extremely deadly) (originates in monkeys)
– Immune Deficiency (originates in chimpanzees and monkeys)
(originates in bats, dogs and foxes)
West Nile Virus
(originates in birds)
(originates in rodents)
What are bacteria?
Bacteria are single-celled and prokaryotic organisms. They replicate in an asexual manner. Asexual
means that they can reproduce on their own without the need of a partner. Bacteria can be harmful but they can also be beneficial depending upon the specific type of bacteria. Compared to the virus, bacteria are rather large, as much as 4 times larger than a virus. Bacteria can live anywhere, including in water, soil, humans and dead bodies. Bacteria turn milk into cheese or sour cream and they decompose dead things. Generally, illnesses from bacteria are not as harmful as illnesses caused by viruses.
Unlike viruses, since bacteria are living, antibiotics are prescribed to kill the bacteria. Antibiotics stop the spread of the bacteria which in turn stops the infection the bacteria caused. Bacteria are smart though and have evolved to withstand many antibiotics making them no longer effective in killing bacteria. It is an ongoing battle for researchers to find and develop new antibiotics in a war against bacteria.
Partial Listing of Illnesses or Diseases Caused by Bacteria
(affects the blood, lungs and liver)
(affects the eyes)
(affects the heart, nervous system and upper respiratory tract)
(affects the intestines) (found in unpasteurized milk, raw vegetables and meats) (if left untreated, it can destroy red blood cells and the kidneys)
(affects the skin, bones and peripheral nerves)
(more commonly known as pneumonia) (affects the lungs)
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
(affects the blood and skin and comes from the bite of a tick)
(affects the entire body – generally with rashes)
(also known as TB) (affects the lungs and then spreads to other internal organs)
What is fungi?
Fungi are living organisms. They come from the large group of eukaryotic organisms that includes yeast and mold. Mushrooms are in the fungi family. A fungus can be either single celled or a very complex multicellular organism. When a fungi infection is present, the general symptoms will include excessive itching, white patches on the skin and burning skin.
Fungi like dark, damp places to grow and feed. They mostly affect the skin and nails (fingernails and toenails) on humans. Unusual, persistent rashes or rash rings (caused by ringworms) found on the surface of the skin and deep into its layers are the result of fungus. In the nails, the fungi burrow under the nail causing the nail to either thicken, become yellow or to develop white streaking lines. In more severe cases the nail can fall or peel off. Ringworm and athlete’s foot are the most common fungi infections suffered by humans. Fungi can be treated with an anti-fungal treatment and proper hygiene.
As has been mentioned earlier, you can help to prevent being attacked by each of these germs so long as you practice good hygiene and take precautions when in public facilities, especially restrooms, where germs run rampant.
Now it’s time to see what you can remember about viruses, bacteria and fungi by finding the correct answer to each of the following ten questions.