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Articles » Diseases of Mankind » Bacteria


What are bacteria?: Bacteria are single-celled creatures with tiny flagella. Bacteria are alive. They are very small organisms, often only a single cell. Bacteria need to get energy, and may emit toxins or waste products. By comparison, viruses are much smaller, and are not exactly "alive" in the normal sense.

Examples of bacterial diseases: There are a great many bacterial conditions that are caused by these tiny microbes. Some bacteria are helpful rather than causing disease, such as the natural bacteria in the gut. However, there are many bacteria that are harmful and cause infectious diseases.

  • Pertussis (whooping cough): caused by Bordetella pertussis bacterium
  • Leprosy: caused by mycobacterium leprae, once a horrendous disease, now trivially curable.
  • Tetanus: caused by Clostridium tetani, a bacillus
  • Salmonella (food poisoning)
  • Botulism (food poisoning): Clostridium botulinum, common food poisoning of canned goods.
  • Scarlet fever: a strain of Streptococcus bacterium
  • Otitis Media (Middle Ear Infection): usually a bacterial infection
  • Streptococcus (such as strep throat): a bacterial infection of the throat
  • Cholera: Vibrio cholerae bacterium
  • Dysentery: intestine disease, can be caused by shigella bacterium or other amoebe.
  • Gonorrhea: Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacteria
  • Anthrax: an infectious disease caused by Bacillus anthracis, usually caught from animals.
  • Diphtheria: Corynebacterium diphtheriae, usually infecting the respiratory tract
  • Syphilis: the spirochete Treponema pallidum, a STD, transmitted sexually
  • Legionnaires' disease: caused by a class of Legionellaceae bacteria, usually found in water, many outbreaks have involved building air-conditioner cooling towers.
  • Tuberculosis (consumption): a lung disease caused by Mycobacterium species bacteria such as Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Mycobacterium bovis. Once common and dangerous, it is now largely eradicated through vaccinations.

Vaccinations and bacterial diseases: Vaccinations are a preventive medicine for numerous bacterial diseases. Various bacterial conditions respond to vaccination attempts. Some examples of vaccinations against bacterial conditions are the vaccines against pertussis, tuberculosis, and meningococcal disease. Vaccinations are always specific to a particular disease, and there is no broad vaccine against all bacteria.

Antibiotics to treat bacterial diseases: Bacterial infections can be treated by "antibiotics" or other anti-bacterial medicines. The best known antibiotic is penicillin, and its descendants such as amoxicillin.

Antibiotics are the main treatment against bacterial diseases and there are many different types of antibiotics. The correct choice depends on the particular bacterial disease. In cases where the exact bacteria is unidentified, there are "broad-spectrum antibiotics" that attack a wide variety of bacteria.

Antibiotics, antibacterials and antiseptics: Antibiotics are used inside the body to attack bacteria. Bacteria that are outside the body, such as on surfaces or in the kitchen or toilet, may be killed by antibacterial or antiseptic agents, but not by antibiotics.


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