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Viruses And Bacteria

Virus Bacteria Petri Dish

What is a Virus?

A virus is different from bacteria as it is simply a collection of microbes made up of genetic material either DNA or RNA. In order for a virus to be a virus, they need to latch on to a living cell in order to multiply and reproduce. You can think of a virus as a tiny molecular machine with a size on the nanometre scale. Viruses are equipped to invade the cells of living organisms, they do this by wrapping themselves around a cell hijacking their energy. While the great majority are harmless to humans, some can make you sick and some can even be deadly.

What is Bacteria?

Basically, bacteria are cells, free-floating genetic material. So on a biological level, the main difference between bacteria and viruses is that bacteria are free-living cells that can live inside or outside a body. While viruses are a non-living collection of molecules that need a host to survive. Many bacteria help us tho living in our gut digesting our food. Similarly, not all viruses are bad. Some can kill undesirable bacteria and some can kill more dangerous viruses, so they can actually be good.

E.Coli (STEC) – Bacteria Mainly Found In Food

Our first example of a common bacteria is E.Coli which sits in the lower intestine of warm-blooded organisms. Most strains are harmless but can cause serious food poisoning. E. coli is sourced from the consumption of contaminated foods, such as raw and uncooked meats, raw milk and raw vegetables.  Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) is destroyed through cooking foods 70 °C or higher. Symptoms include abdominal cramps and diarrhoea, fever and vomiting. The incubation period can be from 3 to 8 days with most recovering within 10 days. Cross-contamination during food prep is another main source, keeping cooked and uncooked meats together.

Preventing E.Coli 

  • Wash hands
  • Separate raw and cooked meats
  • Cook thoroughly
  • Use safe water
  • Clean all food prep surfaces before and after use

MRSA – Virus Commonly Found In Hospitals

Our second example is a common viruses strain of Staphylococcus aureus. Common in hospitals, prisons and nursing homes where people with open wounds, invasive devices such as catheters and weakened immune systems. Shared surfaces and skin to skin contact are a cause of transmission. These include sharing personal items such as towels and touching an infected person. Symptoms include small red bumps that look like pimples, bites or boils. Within a few days, they become larger and more painful. They eventually open into deep pus-filled boils. Treatment of MRSA infections is urgent and delays can be fatal. Antibiotics are effective against MRSA and can be given by IV, oral or both. Diagnoses is a lab test cultured usually from blood or urine.

Preventing MRSA

  • Maintain good hygiene
  • Keep cuts and wounds covered
  • Avoid sharing items such as towels and razors
  • Seek medical assistance as soon as possible

SEPSIS – Virus

A life-threatening condition that arises when the body’s response to infection causes injury to its own tissues and organs. Common signs include fever, burning, cough, swelling and redness. Sepsis is triggered by an infection, fungal, viral or protozoan. Immediate treatment with intravenous fluids and antibiotics is a must. Every cut, scrape and break in the skin can allow bacteria to enter the body which is a common cause of Sepsis. Blisters – Do not pop or break them this is a natural protective barrier, breaking them introduces an opening in the skin which can cause further infection resulting in Sepsis.

Preventing Sepsis

  • Keep all wounds and cuts covered and clean
  • Wash hands
  • Look for early signs of Sepsis and seek medical assistants

FLU – Air Born Virus

Influenza commonly known as “the flu” is an infectious disease caused by an influenza virus. Symptoms can range from mild to severe. High fever, runny nose, sore throat, muscle and joint pain, headache, coughing and feeling tired. Usually, symptoms begin two days after exposure and last for 1-2 weeks. The virus is spread through the air from coughing to sneezing and touching contaminated surfaces. Influenza’s effects are much more severe and last longer than those of the common cold. New influenza viruses are constantly evolving by mutation and cause new variants. The most lethal outbreak was the 1918 flu pandemic called the “Spanish Flu” which lasted for 2 years and killed millions of people. So even tho it was called the Spanish Flu it’s believed that the first cases were recorded in the United States and France by army troops. News coverage at the time concluded Spain had the most cases hence the name Spanish Flu was created.

Preventing Flu

  • Wash hands
  • Keep away from infected persons
  • Avoid touching eyes. nose and mouth

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