Bacteria vs. Viruses


Bacteria Vs. Viruses (or simply Germs?)

 Germs” (Latin germen, meaning ‘seed’ or ‘sprout’) is a common term that includes bacteria, viruses, and other microscopic particles (fungi, and protozoa) that cause illness in humans. This term is however not widely used in formal science these days.

Bacteria (bak·teeuh·ree·uh) and viruses (vai·ruh·suhz) are found almost everywhere and anywhere. You can find them in soil, water, air, your clothes, house and inside your body too. They are present in the depths of the oceans as well as on the top of the mountains. You can find them in the extreme of the extreme conditions on the planet where you would expect no life to exist (check ‘what are extremophiles?’). They can infect plants, animals, and people, but don’t necessarily make us sick every time.

Feature/Character

Bacteria

Virus

How do they look?

You’ll need a microscope though since they are microscopic


How many cells do they have?

(humans have on an average ~37 trillion cells)

Single-celled


No cell


Size

(Human: 175 cm)

0.3 - 2 μ (0.00003 - 0.0002 cm)

0.02 - 0.3 μ (0.000002 - 0.00003 cm)

The largest virus is still smaller than the smallest bacterium

Cell type (humans are eukaryotic)

Prokaryotic

Acellular (no cellular organelles, cannot grow or divide or carry out independent metabolism)

Made of?

Organelles and genetic material within a cell wall

Genetic material within protein capsule (some have an envelope too)

Genetic material

DNA and RNA

DNA or RNA

Living attributes

Living

Between living and non-living things

Need for host

Can replicate without host too

Need a living cell to replicate

Where do they survive

Anywhere and everywhere (Outside/inside body)

Host needed (only reproduce by attaching themselves to cells)

Cellular machinery (ribosome, etc)

Present

Absent

Type of organism

Mostly intercellular (live between cells); some intracellular

Intracellular (live inside the cell)

Harmful?

Most are harmless.

Some are beneficial while some are disease-causing (pathogenic)

Most are harmful

Infections

Food poisoning, gastritis, ulcers, pneumonia, etc

Common cold, influenza, chickenpox, AIDS etc

Treatment

Antibiotics

Antiviral drugs

Benefits

Some bacteria are beneficial (as normal flora, probiotics, fermenters, etc.)

Viruses are not beneficial. (can be useful in genetic engineering)

Examples

Escherichia coli, Salmonella, Mycobacteria, Staphylococcus species

Coronavirus, Ebola virus, SARS, HIV, Hepatitis A virus

Remember: Antibiotics are meant to fight bacteria but not viruses. That’s why your doctor will not prescribe antibiotics for flu or common cold. 


Here are some video links if you are interested in knowing about: 

Where do new viruses come from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJLXdsO1GBI

Viruses and Bacteria: What's the difference and who cares anyway? - Plain and Simple: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7iaPos8a90 


- By Venkata Krishnan