Bacteria and Viruses have plenty of things in common. Both are caused by tiny microbes, and both are spread by sneezing, coughing, contact with infected people and animals, infected surfaces, infected water, infected food, and so on. Microbes, their common nominator can be the cause for either an acute infection (typically short-lived), latent infection (symptoms may appear after a while), or a chronic one (can last weeks, months, or even a lifetime). But what matters the most is that bacteria and virus infections can lead to mild, moderate, or severe disease.
The differences between Bacteria and Viruses
Even though they share some common features, bacteria and viruses have plenty of differences.
Bacteria are single-celled organisms featuring a rubbery membrane that encapsulates its fluid and a rigid wall. These relatively complex organisms can reproduce on their own and can survive in various conditions and environments. Some fossilized bacteria are thought to be 3.4 billion years old. Almost 99% of all bacteria are either harmless of brings some benefit to the human organism. Only 1% of all bacteria can bring diseases to people.
Viruses are smaller than bacteria. They are made of a protein coat and genetic material (DNA or RNA). To survive, they need a host. They can reproduce only if they manage to attach themselves to a cell. Most of the times, they reprogram the cell to produce new viruses until it bursts and dies. Other times they make the cell malignant or cancerous. Unlike bacteria, almost all viruses carry disease and attack healthy cells.
Speaking of viruses and bacteria, one must never forget to mention germs. These little buggers are so small that can be seen only through a microscope. Thanks to their molecular size, they can sneak into anyone’s body and drain all the nutrients and energy, and inject toxins instead. There are four types of germs: viruses, bacteria, protozoa, and fungi. They can cause symptoms like vomiting, sniffles, diarrhea, rashes, and coughing.
Treatment of viral and bacterial infections
The discovery of antibiotics is regarded as one of the greatest breakthroughs in medical history. They are the primary cure for bacterial infections. However, the overuse of antibiotics has enabled bacteria to adapt and become resistant which has made some antibiotics obsolete.
Bacteriophage or phage therapy is used for pathogenic bacterial infections. The treatment was initially developed in the Republic of Georgia. Nowadays, it is still in use in places and in cases where the bacteria are resistant to antibiotics.
Antibiotics have little to no effect over viruses. Instead, vaccines have been developed to fight off viruses. Thanks to vaccines, the number of viral diseases like polio, chickenpox, and measles have been drastically reduced.