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Viruses Vs. Bacteria: A Condensed Version

Viruses and bacteria are so small, they can only be visualized under a microscope.

  • Bacteria are bigger and older.
  • Have been around for 3.5 billion years according to fossilized data. 
  • Can adapt well to extreme weather conditions. 
  • They are single-celled organisms able to reproduce on their own.
  • Live in our oceans, soil, and in us—really enjoy our intestines.
  • In most cases, are very beneficial to us.  Aid in digestion, provide nutrients, & fight off microorganisms.

Every once in a while, they get disrupted, causing them to go in another direction which can lead to bacterial infections.  Some examples of bacterial infections include strep throat, sinus infections, urinary tract infections, sexually transmitted infections, and pneumonia. 

The symptoms are similar to virus infections (in the early stages).  Can exhibit fever, sore throat, cough, fatigue, body aches.  Bacterial infections are treated with antibiotics.

Even though the symptoms may be similar, the treatment of killing off viruses is completely opposite from bacteria.

Viruses were discovered in 1892 on tobacco leaves- although other sources indicate their presence has been known since 1600.  The Latin meaning for a virus is slime or poison. 

  • Viruses lie in a state of not alive, but not dead.
  • Require a host to attach on too, survive, reproduce, and thrive.
  • Commonly known viral infections are HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis A, B, & C, Measles, Mumps, Rebella, even chickenpox, and polio.
  • For our purposes, we will address the viruses that spread infection by respiratory droplets.

Here’s my interpretation of a viruses cycle:

Someone coughs in their hand instead of their elbow or Kleenex.  I happen to walk by shortly afterwards, and give them a high five since I haven’t seen that person in a while.  I keep walking, moments later I adjust my glasses, scratch my ear, then eat something.

I have just put their virus (from their hand) into my system, where it sits in my upper respiratory system.


Let’s assume I have cancer and currently undergoing chemo and radiation or I have an immune-compromised condition ie., lupus or rheumatoid arthritis—something that weakens my immune system (my ability to fight off illnesses).

As a result of having an underlying health condition, this allows the virus to thrive.  So now they have gone deeper into my respiratory system, then into my bloodstream where they have free access to the rest of my healthy cells.   

The virus attaches itself to a healthy cell; it actually pins itself to the membrane (covering of the cell, similar to our skin—it protects us, as the membrane protects the cell).  Once it is attached, it penetrates the membrane, then it injects it’s DNA into the cell.  Exactly like getting pregnant; it’s “DNA” must be viral sperm.

Then, within the cell, new cell division starts/ rapidly multiplying and dividing.  Again, like us, our cells multiply and divide BEFORE we become an embryo.

When ready to be delivered (for lack of a better term), the “babies” secrete an enzyme which causes the cell to blast open allowing 300 viruses to be born—where they get out there, start looking for another healthy cell to invade and repeat the process.

By this point, our bodies are aware there is something going on so it produces lymphocytes and killer T cells (among other agents) to retaliate and the fight is on!!  Our immune system works until it kills off the virus or the other way around….

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