What is the Difference Between Virus and Bacteria?


Sun Tzu once said, “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” This is the philosophy you should take into the battle against viruses and bacteria. If you know the difference between viruses and bacteria, and how to best take on each, you can never lose.

The COVID-19 pandemic has left everyone with a newfound passion for eliminating germs. Keep reading to learn the difference between viruses vs bacteria, and how to eliminate both.

The Difference Between Virus and Bacteria

Many people use the terms “virus” and “bacteria” interchangeably. There are, however, a lot of key differences between bacteria and viruses. Here’s a breakdown of each.

What Are Bacteria?

Bacteria are all around us.

These single-celled microorganisms come in a ton of different shapes and sizes. Some thrive in the heat, some in the cold, and some inside the human body. Some of them help us perform necessary functions like digestion, while others cause us illnesses like strep throat or UTIs.

Some of the most common examples of bacterial infections include:

  • Strep throat
  • UTI
  • Gonorrhea
  • Bacterial food poisoning
  • Lyme disease

Bacteria are living organisms, as they need the energy to survive and multiply, but not living hosts. This is why they thrive inside the body so well. Most bacteria are easily treated with antibiotics, but more serious treatment may be necessary for certain infections. The vast majority of bacteria are harmless, with only a few “pathogenic” bacteria causing illness.

What Are Viruses?

Viruses, on the other hand, are a whole other issue.

Viruses are smaller than bacteria, and they can only thrive and multiply in living beings. That means people, animals, and even plants in some cases. Without a living host, a virus will die rather quickly.

In this way, viruses are parasitic beings.

Once a virus gets in your body, though, it’ll do all it can to multiply. The virus hooks onto your cells and takes control. Like an invasive species, the virus’s only goal is to spread and grow.

Some viruses can even kill the host cells they latch onto, causing a wide variety of problems for the host.

There are a lot of different viral diseases. A few popular examples are:

  • The flu
  • Chickenpox
  • AIDS
  • The common cold
  • COVID-19

Viruses differ from bacteria in a few major ways. First off, some scientists, they’re not even considered alive as they need a living host to thrive. Antibiotics can’t kill viruses — instead, antivirals and vaccinations are necessary.

Typically, viruses are much more worrying than bacteria. They can be hard to recover from, and they usually cause more damage. Just take one look at the current pandemic situation as proof of that.

Again, this is a complex discussion and maybe would be better to inform you that even scientists have difficulty in defining if they are live beings or not.

Virus vs Bacteria: How Is Each Spread?

For the most part, viruses, and bacteria spread in the same ways. How each spread can vary depending on the specific infection, though.

How Bacteria Spreads

Bacterial infections are typically contagious. They can easily be passed on from person to person through close contact. This includes kissing, touching, sneezing and coughing, and even transmission from mother to child during pregnancy.

Since bacteria can live on surfaces you can get a bacterial infection from touching an infected surface and then touching your face. Another important route of bacteria infection is through dirty wounds.

Viruses can also be transmitted by an animal’s bite, mainly by arthropods like insects. The arthropod route of transmission is particularly important for virus including disease as yellow fever, dengue, and others. Other animal bites can transmit rabies, for example.

How Viruses Spread 

Just like bacterial infections, there are a lot of contagious viral infections. These include things like the flu and COVID-19.

Viruses can spread through sneezing, coughing, and having physical contact with people. You can transmit them through pregnancy, and you can get them from contaminated surfaces. However, viruses typically don’t survive as long on surfaces as bacteria, as they require a host to multiply and thrive.

Coronavirus, for example, can only last on certain surfaces for 24-48 hours. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be cautious, though. This is why gloves and masks have become so important in 2020 — they help keep the virus out of the body no matter what.

How Do I Eliminate Bacteria and Viruses?

We’ve come a long way as human beings in our fight against bacteria and viruses. Today, we have more options than ever to kill them before they spread too far.

One of the best moves you can make, especially during a pandemic, is investing in an air purifier. A good air purifier can eliminate traces of viruses and bacteria in the air. They’re trusted by many companies and individuals to keep their spaces clean and bacteria-free.

Also, good hygiene and care are some of the best ways to keep germs away. Wash your hands regularly, wear a mask, and stay distant during an outbreak of any infection. It’s the only way to be safe.

Bacteria vs Virus vs Man: The Ultimate Battle

Now that you know the difference between viruses and bacteria, you’re more prepared to do battle with each. Stay hygienic, clean surfaces regularly, and don’t touch your face. And if you want to take that extra step towards safety, invest in a good air purifier.

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