Everything About Infections, Women should know.
Types | Causes
Bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoa, parasites, & prions are different types of pathogen. They vary in their size, shape, function, genetic content, & how they act on the body.
For example, viruses are smaller than bacteria, & they can enter a host & take over cells. However, bacteria can survive without a host. Treatment will depend on the type of pathogen. This article will focus on the most common & deadly types of infection: Bacterial, viral, fungal, & prion.
Viral infections are caused by a virus. 100,00,000+ types of virus are thought to exist, but only 5,000 types have been identified. Viruses contain a small piece of genetic code. They are protected by a coat of protein & fat.
Viruses invade a host & attach themselves to a cell. As they enter the cell, they release the genetic material. The genetic material forces the cell to replicate, & the virus multiplies. When the cell dies, it releases new viruses, & these go on to infect new cells. Not all viruses destroy their host cell. Some of them change the cell’s function. In this way, viruses such as Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) or human papillomavirus (HPV) can lead to cancer by forcing cells to replicate in an uncontrolled way.
They can also target the certain age groups, such as infants or young children. A virus must remain the dormant for a fix time period before multiplying again. The person with the virus can appear to have the recovered but may get sick again when the virus reactivates.
Here are some examples of viral infections:
- the common cold, mainly caused by the rhinovirus, coronavirus, & adenovirus
- encephalitis & meningitis, caused by enteroviruses & the herpes viruses
- warts & skin infections, caused by the human papillomaviruses (HPV) & herpes simplex virus (HSV).
- gastroenteritis, caused by the nova virus
Other viral conditions include:
- Zika virus
- human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
- hepatitis C
- Dengue fever
- H1N1 swine flu
- Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS-CoV)
Antiviral medications help in some cases. They can either prevent the virus from the reproducing or boost the immune system of the host.
Antibiotics are not effective against viruses. Using antibiotics against a virus will not stop the virus, & it increases the risk of antibiotic resistance.
Most treatment aims to relieve the symptoms while the immune system combats the virus without assistance from medicine.
Bacteria are single-celled microorganisms known as prokaryotes. There are estimated to be at least 1 nonillion bacteria on our Earth. A nonillion is a one followed by thirty zeros. Much of biomass of Earth is made up of bacteria.
Bacteria take three main shapes:
- Spherical: These are usually the simplest to treat & are known as cocci.
- Rod-shaped: These are called bacilli.
- Spiral: Coiled bacteria are known as spirilla. If the coil of a spirillums is particularly tight, they are known as spirochetes.
Bacteria can live in almost any kind of environment, from extreme heat to intense cold, & some can even survive in radioactive waste. There are trillions of strains of bacteria, & few of these cause diseases in humans. Some of them live inside the body of a human without causing harm, for example in the gut or airways. Some “good” bacteria attack “bad” bacteria & prevent them from causing sickness.
However, some bacterial diseases are deadly.
- bubonic plague
Some examples of bacterial infections are:
- bacterial meningitis
- otitis media
- upper respiratory tract infection
- food poisoning
- eye infections
- urinary tract infections
- skin infections
- sexually transmitted diseases
Bacterial infections can be treated with antibiotics, but some strains become resistant & can survive the treatment.
A fungus is an often-multi-cellular parasite that can decompose & then absorb organic matter using an enzyme. They almost always reproduce through the spreading of single-celled spores, & the structure of a fungus is normally long & cylindrical with small filaments branching from the main body. This structure is known as hypha.
There are approximately 51 million species of fungus. Many fungal infections will appear in the upper layers of the skin, & some progress to the deeper layers. The inhaled fungal spores may lead to systemic fungal infections, such as candidiasis, or thrush. Systemic diseases affect the whole body.
The body usually has a population of “good” bacteria which help to maintain the microorganism’s balance in the intestines, vagina, mouth, & other parts of the body. If enough “good” bacteria are destroyed, for example, by overusing antibiotics, fungi can grow & cause health problems for the host.
Those with a highest risk of the developing a fungal infection include people who:
- use strong antibiotics for a long time
- valley fever, or coccidioidomycosis
- athlete’s foot
- some eye infections
A prion is a protein that contains no genetic material. It is normally harmless, but if it folds into an abnormal shape, it can become a rogue agent & affect the structure of the brain or other parts of the nervous system. Prions do not replicate or feed on the host but trigger abnormal behavior in the body’s cells & proteins.
Prion diseases are rare, but they progress rapidly, & all are currently fatal. Prions cause degenerative brain diseases, such as:
- Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD)
While the forms of the infection mentioned above are the main types, there are others that can have an effect on the body. A single-celled organism with the nucleus can cause a protozoan infection. Protozoa commonly show features similar to animals, such as the mobility, & can survive outside of the human body. They are most commonly transferred by contact with the feces.
When they enter in the human body, protozoa can also cause infection. Amebic dysentery is an example of a protozoan infection. Helminths are bigger, multicellular organisms which tend to be visible to the naked eye when full-grown. This type of parasite includes flatworms & roundworms. These are also able to infect in the human body.
Finally, ectoparasites such as mites, ticks, lice, & fleas can cause infection by attaching or burrowing into the skin. The term can also include blood-sucking arthropods, such as mosquitos, that transmit infection by consuming human blood.
The cause of the infection is said to be whichever type of organism has invaded the body. For example, the particular virus will be the cause of a viral infection.
The effects of the infection, such as swelling or a runny nose, occur as the result of the immune system fighting the invading organism. For example, a wound filling with pus, occurs when white blood cells rush to the site of an injury to combat foreign bacteria.