Even though bacteria and viruses are both really really (really really) small, and can’t be seen without a microscope, they’re as different as LIZ and a cup of coffee. We read so many scientific articles about these two germs just to make it easier for you to understand. Here we go: 

Let’s start with bacteria. Bacteria are like … your lonely friends. Relatively complex, single celled organisms, they’re rough on the outside and soft on the inside (a thin and rubbery membrane is surrounding the fluid inside the cell). Bacteria come in many shapes and sizes (spheres, cylinders, threads, rods and even chains).

If you’re thinking: “Bacteria are dangerous then?”

Hmm, not really. 

They look dangerous but, like your lonely friendly friends, they are really nice. Most bacteria are harmless and only less than 1% cause diseases. Some are, actually, needed! You have bacteria that:

  • help to digest food

  • destroy disease caused by microbes (if you want to know what a microbe is, we can write another article on it!) 

  • fight cancer cells

  • and provide you with essential nutrients. 

On the contrary, viruses are like… Pirates.

Viruses need a host cell to survive and to reproduce. They’re one piece of genetic material (DNA or RNA) surrounded by a protein shell. Like your typical pirates: viruses “hijack” a host cell to make new viral proteins. They take advantage of other components within the host cell (ATP (adenosine triphosphate), amino acids & fats) to replicate. Once they’re finished, they go on a hunt to kill the host cell. 

Once new viruses are made, they can be passed down and  infect new host cells, and new hosts. Yep, viruses are no joke. 

You might already understand that most viruses cause disease. In fact, one of them is doing a World Tour right now: Covid19! You might also know herpes zoster, HIV, influenza, the common cold which are also (sadly) famous viruses.

Just in case, here some bacterial infections:

  • whooping cough, 

  • strep throat, 

  • ear infection,

  • urinary infection.

And some viral infections:

  • common cold, 

  • flu, 

  • most coughs and bronchitis, 

  • chickenpox and HIV/AIDS.

So, what can kill bacteria infections ? 

Antibiotics can do the job, but they don’t work against viruses. 

What can kill viruses then ? 

Vaccination and antivirals my friend! 


And if you’re still Googling your symptoms: you’ll probably convince yourself that you’re incredibly sick… The best doctor is still your doctor!

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