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[Living Green] Safety Column #5 Stop bacteria and viruses!

by Eco Generation | 26-06-2020 08:52 Comments 2 recommendations 0

Stop bacteria and viruses!



By Science Columnist Ho-Gwan Ko



Following the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003 and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in 2015, the epidemic of the novel coronavirus in 2020 is making a lot of people worried. New diseases keep emerging, creating anxiety among the public.

In fact, even if no new diseases are introduced, we still can contract several old ones. In summer, people eat something bad and get food poisoning, have red eyes due to some eye disorders, and catch colds. In most cases, they get proper treatment and get better soon. In severe cases, however, permanent after-effects are left or even lives are lost.

Watching the news about these diseases, you will often hear that bacteria or viruses are the cause. When bacteria or viruses that cause disease enter and multiply in your body, you get sick. Symptoms vary depending on the bacteria or viruses.

In some cases, the two are often confused. However, bacteria and viruses are very different. Let's start with their differences. Bacteria are unicellular organisms. They can intake nutrients and live by themselves. They mostly reproduce by growing and splitting in two via binary fission.

Cholera, typhoid fever, and tuberculosis are some of the common diseases caused by bacteria. However, not all bacteria cause illness. Most of the bacteria around us do no harm. Some bacteria live with another by benefiting each other. Some bacteria are useful to us. Yeast is used for making bread and beer, and lactic acid bacteria for yogurt or kimchi. The process by which we make something useful with bacteria is called fermentation. On the other hand, a process that is harmful or useless to us is called decay. Fermentation and decay are only different from the perspective of humans.

You get sick if you eat decayed food or if bacteria enter the body through a wound and multiply. In most cases, the immune system defends against them, but if dangerous bacteria enter the body or too many ordinary bacteria come in, the immune system cannot handle it. In such cases, appropriate treatment should be initiated. Antibiotics are medicines used to treat bacteria. Penicillin was famously the first antibiotic. Today, a number of antibiotics have been developed and used.

Viruses, unlike cells, cannot live by themselves. They replicate only inside the living cells of an organism. During the process, they cause illness. Viruses are much smaller than bacteria; we had not known how they looked like until the electron microscope was invented.

The colds and flu that we often get are diseases caused by viruses. They are not treated with antibiotics. For mild infections such as colds, we simply try to alleviate the symptoms and wait to be healed. This means that the cold medicine we take does not contain any ingredients that kill the virus that causes the cold. As for dangerous illnesses not cured with time, antiviral drugs should be invented for treatment, or they should be prevented with a vaccine. There would not be a better way than preventing with a vaccine.

To stay away from disease, you need to stop bacteria and viruses from entering your body. Infection can occur in several ways: direct contact, eating food that has been contaminated by fecal matter, saliva from coughing or sneezing, and airborne infections.

Diseases that are only transferred by direct contact can be prevented relatively easily, because all you need to do is avoid contact with patients. In countries with good hygiene, the likelihood of having water or food contaminated by feces is low. Drinking directly from a well or river can be dangerous. The most dangerous is airborne infections. The spread of airborne infections can lead to a large number of patients.


Stop bacteria and viruses!

▲ Masks help keep the epidemic from spreading.


As many have already pointed out, the best way to stop bacteria and viruses is washing your hands. Washing your hands using soap with running water or hand sanitizer can kill or wash away most bacteria and viruses. Wearing a mask can also help prevent infectious diseases spread through saliva or air. Viruses smaller than bacteria could pass through a mask, but wearing one is better than nothing.

If you are infected, you should avoid contact with others as much as possible and report it to the government for quarantine. This way, you can prevent further damage. We need to pay attention even to invisible micro-organisms, bacteria and viruses, for the sake of ourselves and of society.


Kushal Naharki

  • Kushal Naharki says :
    This is really interesting article to read.
    Posted 17-07-2020 16:03

Kamakshi  Bali

  • Kamakshi Bali says :
    Really informative!!!!!!!!
    Posted 17-07-2020 02:38

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