Usually, there are two types of germs, which cause most infections - bacteria and virus. Bacteria vs. virus is a very common confusion most of us have. The former are unicellular microorganisms, which are typically a few micrometers long and come in many shapes, such as curved, spherical, rods, and spirals (the singular form is called bacterium); while the latter are sub-microscopic particles, which are 10,000 times smaller than a bacterium.
A clear understanding of both types of infectious agents is essential to be able to wrap our heads around their mutual differences. Information regarding both pathogens is presented in the next two paragraphs.
They are single-celled, prokaryotic organisms, which can be found virtually everywhere in air, soil, water, in and on plants and animals. They are all surrounded by a cell wall, and can reproduce independently. These are classified into two types - useful and harmful. The beneficial type carry out many useful functions, like making vitamins, breaking down waste, turning milk into cheese, etc. As a matter of fact, the human mouth is home to more than 500 species of this type. Some of them that reside in the human body can prevent infections and produce useful elements, like Vitamin K. The ones present in the stomachs of cows and sheep help them to digest grass. They are also necessary for the production of yogurt, cheese, and a lot of other food products that undergo fermentation prior to consumption. The infections caused due to this agent are strep throat, urinary tract infections, ear infections, some of the sinus infections, stomach ulcers, septicemia, etc.
It is the smallest and tiniest of microbes, which are extremely small and are about 20 to 250 nanometers in size (one nanometer is one billionth of a meter). It is the smallest and simplest of life forms known, if it can be called a lifeform at all, given that it cannot undergo metabolism or reproduce independently. It consists of a small collection of genetic material, which is encased in a protective coat known as capsid. When it is present outside a living cell, it is dormant; but, when it is inside, it takes over the resources of the host cell and begins to replicate into more particles. It actually trigger the cells to engulf the particles, and connects itself to these cells and releases their DNA into the cell. Then, it takes over the cellular machinery to reproduce, overrides the host cell's normal function, shuts down the production of protein, and directs the resources for new production. There are some viruses, which insert their genetic material into the DNA of the host cell where they begin to directly copy their genes or simply lie asleep either for lifetime or for years. In either case, it is the host cell, which does all the actual work, and the virus simply gives direction.
|It can multiply on non-living surfaces.||It must have a living host to multiply.|
|They are inter-cellular organisms.||They are intracellular organisms.|
|Some of these organisms are useful.||They are all harmful.|
|It can be killed by antibiotics.||It cannot be killed by antibiotics.|
There are certain ailments, such as, pneumonia, meningitis, diarrhea, etc., which can be caused due to either of the microbes, as it is very difficult to ascertain what has actually caused the ailment.
I hope that with this article, the difference between two of the chief mammalian pathogens is clearer to you. However, it is recommended you do not treat yourself by going for self-medication, as inappropriate use of antibiotics or any other medicines can create strains of a disease, which may become resistant to antibiotic treatment.
Disclaimer: This Buzzle article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.