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Pathogenic infections from viruses and bacteria

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Pathogenic infections from viruses and bacteria

Dr. Jack Kunkel

Pathogenic infections from viruses and bacteria

Pathogen is a very broad biological term that is basically defined as any living organism that causes disease to its host. Although you might be somewhat unfamiliar with the word ‘pathogen’, you are likely familiar with some common types of pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, mold, and parasites.


Viruses are microscopic germs (pathogens) that that are inside your body and they get triggered by toxins. Viruses contain genetic material, either DNA or RNA, and must invade a host in order to multiply. Once inside your body, a virus will ‘hi-jack’ your cells and use them to reproduce, spread, causes disease by eventually destroying the host cell.

Most viruses tend to go away on their own while some require treatment, however, others can cause long term chronic illness. In healthy people, viruses can be minor, while in people with weakened or compromised immune systems they can be severe, or even life threatening.

Common types of viruses:

There are many different types of viruses that affect various parts of the body.

Types of viral infections include:
  • respiratory infections
  • digestive system infections
  • viral hemorrhagic fevers
  • sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • neurological infections
  • Exanthematous (rash causing) viral infections
  • congenital infections and more.
Symptoms of viruses:

The symptoms of a virus will differ depending on the person and the type of virus, but some common symptoms of viruses include:

  • Flu-like symptoms: fever, head and body aches, fatigue
  • Upper respiratory symptoms: sore throat, cough, sneezing
  • Digestive symptoms: nausea, vomiting,diarrhea
  • Skin conditions: rashes, sores, blisters,warts.


Bacteria are large groups of microscopic, single celled living organisms that are usually found in the millions.

For example, one gram of soil typically contains about 40 million bacterial cells and one ml of fresh water usually holds about one million bacterial cells. There are also millions of different kinds of bacteria.

Unlike viruses, bacteria do not need a host to survive. They can exist in virtually any environment, both inside and outside the body. Bacteria can be found in soil, water, plants, animals, radioactive waste, deep in the earth’s crust, arctic ice and glaciers, and hot springs.

There are bacteria in the stratosphere, between 6 and 30 miles up in the atmosphere, and in the ocean depths, down to 32,800 feet or 10,000 meters deep.

Good Bacteria Vs Bad Bacteria

Good Bacteria

Although we generally view bacteria in a negative light, most types of bacteria aren’t harmful. In fact, they are essential to human survival. Many bacteria, such as the bacteria on our skin or in our gut microbiome, are very helpful and keep us healthy.

Bad Bacteria

However, some types of bacteria (pathogens) can reproduce quickly, give off harmful toxins, and cause diseases in humans, such as cholera, diptheria, dysentery, bubonic plague, pneumonia, tuberculosis (TB), typhoid, and many more.

Types of bad bacteria include:

  • Streptococcus: Bacteria that cause strep throat.
  • Staphylococcus: Bacteria that cause staph infections.
  • Escherichia coli: Bacteria that cause E. coli infections.
  • Aerococcus urinae: Bacteria in urine that cause urinary tract infections.
  • Chlamydia trachomatis: Bacteria that cause a sexually transmitted infection (STI) called chlamydia.
  • Bordetella pertussis: Bacteria that cause whooping cough.

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