Germs and Bacteria
Germs and bacteria are responsible for many of the illnesses that affect humans and other living organisms the world over. “Germ”, while not a technical medial term, is a kind of catch-all phrase that refers to any number of microbial organisms — including viruses, bacteria, fungi and prions — which are pathogenic in nature. These illness-causing organisms exist in almost all settings, and are responsible for a great number of the illnesses that plague humans, plants and other animals.
A subset of the organisms usually classified as germs, bacteria are single-celled prokaryotic (meaning that the lack a cell nucleus) organisms present almost everywhere on Earth. Bacteria, as microscopic organisms exist in great numbers on almost every surface available. Bacteria also exist in the human body, with millions of them living in the human digestive tract, where they make digestion possible. A human body is made up of over 100 trillion cells. The intestines of a single human are home to over ten times as many bacteria as compose the body — one quadrillion bacteria.
Besides digestion, bacteria are also active in the processing of edible dairy products, the creation of antibiotics, the treatment of raw sewage, oil spill cleanup and the mining of precious minerals. Not all bacteria are friendly though. Bacteria are also responsible for many illnesses, including tuberculosis, anthrax poisoning, leprosy, cholera syphilis and many other infectious diseases.
Like their fellow germs, bacteria, though small, are responsible for the deaths of millions of people a year. Viruses cause diseases including Herpes, Smallpox, Hepatitis, Influenza (commonly known as the flu), Rabies and Ebola, all of which are serious diseases, many of which are deadly. Fungi are dangerous to humans, often in those whose immune systems have already been compromised by earlier conditions, but do a great deal of damage in the plant world. Most plant illnesses are caused by fungal infections.
Pathogens, including germs and bacteria, are so prevalent that there is no way to escape them, so the best way to steer clear of their illness-inducing properties is to maintain a clean environment and take all necessary precautions to lessen exposure to the dangerous germs. Places that are cleaner do not provide these disease-causing organisms with the nutrition and environments they need to live outside of a host.
Parent page: Germs and Bacteria