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The Germ Guide

The Germ Guide



What Are Germs?

Germs are microscopic bacteria, viruses, fungi and protozoa that can be the root cause of various diseases.

One of the best ways to prevent spreading diseases and infections are to wash hands well with soap. Ensuring good personal hygiene habits also plays an important part in preventing infections.


What Are the Different Types of Germs?


Bacteria are extremely small, single-celled organisms. They get their nutrients from their surrounding environments. Examples of environments are your children or other animals or plants.

There are good bacteria; these help our digestive system work and help in stopping harmful bacteria from coming in. In fact, some bacteria is used to make vaccines and medicines.

There are bad bacteria too; these cause tooth infections, cavities, ear infections, urinary tract infections or strep throats. Typically, antibiotics are used to treat these types of bacterial infections.



Smaller than bacteria, viruses don’t function as a complete cell. Packaged inside a protein coating, they are genetic material (DNA or RNA). In order to reproduce, they need to use another cell’s structures. For them to survive, they need to live inside something else like an animal, person or plant.

Their life is very short if they are outside other living cells. For example, if virus infected body fluids were left on places like a toilet seat, they will live there only for a short period of time. Unless, another living being comes along, it will die quickly.

When they’ve moved into someone’s body, though, viruses spread easily and can make a person sick. Viruses cause minor sicknesses like colds, common illnesses like the flu, and very serious diseases like smallpox or HIV/AIDS.

If you have a viral infection, antibiotics are not effective. Antiviral medicines have been developed against a small group of viruses. There are many new viruses like the coronavirus that are life threatening.



Fungi are plant like organisms that are multi-celled. Fungi get their nutrition from plants, food, and animals in moist, warm environments.

Many fungal infections, such as athlete’s foot and yeast infections, are not dangerous in a healthy person. People with weak immune systems (from diseases like HIV or cancer), though, may get more serious fungal infections.

Fungal infections like yeast infections are not dangerous in a healthy person. However, people who have weak immune systems may develop more serious infections.


Like bacteria, protozoa are one-celled organisms. But they are larger than bacteria and have a nucleus and other cell structures. These characteristics make them more like plant and animal cells.

Protozoa love humidity. Any stomach infections typically are caused by contaminated water. Some protozoa are also parasites. These live on other living beings to survive. For example, malaria is caused by protozoa that lives inside red blood cells. These red blood cells are eventually destroyed by the protozoa. Protozoans have different shapes.




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