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Viral Infection Vs. Bacterial Infection

Viral Infection Vs. Bacterial Infection

This article describes in detail, the differences between infections caused by bacteria and viruses.
Rahul Thadani
Last Updated: Feb 10, 2018
Every infection that the human body is afflicted by is primarily caused by two sources - bacteria or viruses. Both these class of organisms are pathogens (dangerous microscopic organisms), and have the ability to cause some form of illness to human beings. Viruses are parasites, and as a result, all of them can cause harm to the body. But, some species of bacteria are actually useful to the body. Only about 10% of the bacteria are actually harmful.
The infections caused by both sets of pathogens can escalate immensely if left untreated. The fundamental differences between both the sets of organisms are discussed below.
What is Viral Infection?
Viruses are microscopic organisms that are parasitic in nature. They are dormant when they exist by themselves in the air, but when they enter a host's body, they get active and begin to multiply and reproduce. These microbes unequivocally require a host in order to get active and reproduce, and share a symbiotic relationship with the host's body. The strain that they generate on the host produces an illness, and this is the primary difference between the two.
In human beings, mucous membrane cells are the most vulnerable ones that are prone to getting attacked by viruses. Since there is no protective covering surrounding these cells, they are easily attacked. Common colds, flu, and various other infections are caused by these microbes. Mentioned below are 4 basic types of viruses.
  • Helical
  • Enveloped
  • Complex
  • Icosahedral
Once a virus enters inside the body, it becomes very hard for the natural antibodies to locate and fight them, as they hide themselves well behind various cells of the body. But, once the infection starts spreading, antibodies are produced to combat these microbes, which eventually knocks them out.
What is Bacterial Infection?
There are millions of types of bacteria present in the air, and they all perform fixed tasks. Not all of them are harmful to the human body, and this is a crucial difference in the study. The four types of bacteria, based on their shapes, are as follows.
  • Cocci
  • Bacilli
  • Vibrio
  • Spirochaetes
Numerous antibodies are released to combat the diseases, if they happen to enter any other complex organisms. In most cases, a certain dosage of antibiotics is also necessary to aid the body in this process. Unlike viruses, bacteria are not parasitic in nature, and do not need to depend on a host in order to get active and reproduce.
Viral Infection and Bacterial Infection - Entry Into the Body
The following are the ways, by which a body can get infected by viruses.
  • Coughing, sneezing, and vomiting by an infected person.
  • Bite from an infected insect or animal.
  • Inadequate personal hygiene.
Mentioned below are the ways, by which bacterial infections enter our body.
  • Close contact with a person who is infected.
  • Food or water that is contaminated.
  • Touching surfaces or objects that harbor these organisms.
  • Contact with cuts and abrasions on the surface of the skin.
Further Differences
  1. A viral infection will last up to 10 days, but a bacterial infection may take up to 2 weeks to be eradicated.
  2. Bacterial infection symptoms would include a persistent cough, continuously high temperature, and a thick discharge from the nose.
  3. Viral infection symptoms are dry cough, runny nose, watery eyes, sore throat, and constant joint ache and pain.
  4. Most antibiotics do not kill the viruses, they can only make the person feel better. Bacteria on the other hand, can be eliminated by antibiotics.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.