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Showing posts with label Infection. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Infection. Show all posts

What’s the Difference Between Bacterial and Viral Infections?


bacteria vs viral infections

What’s the difference?

Bacteria and viruses can cause many common infections. But what are the differences between these two kinds of infectious organisms?

Bacteria are tiny microorganisms that are made up of a single cell. They’re very diverse and can have a large variety of shapes and structural features.

Bacteria can live in almost every conceivable environment, including in or on the human body.

Only a handful of bacteria cause infections in humans. These bacteria are referred to as pathogenic bacteria.

Viruses are another type of tiny microorganism, although they’re even smaller than bacteria. Like bacteria, they’re very diverse and have a variety of shapes and features.

Viruses are parasitic. That means they require living cells or tissue in which to grow.

Viruses can invade the cells of your body, using the components of your cells to grow and multiply. Some viruses even kill host cells as part of their life cycle.

Read on to learn more about the differences between these two types of infections.

Many bacterial infections are contagious, meaning that they can be transmitted from person to person. There are many ways this can occur, including:

  • close contact with a person who has a bacterial infection, including touching and kissing
  • contact with the body fluids of a person who has an infection, particularly after sexual contact or when the person coughs or sneezes
  • transmission from mother to child during pregnancy or birth
  • coming into contact with surfaces contaminated with the bacteria, such as doorknobs or faucet handles and then touching your face, nose, or mouth

In addition to being transmitted from person to person, bacterial infections can also be transmitted through the bite of an infected insect. Additionally, consuming contaminated food or water can also lead to an infection.

Some examples of bacterial infections include:

Like bacterial infections, many viral infections are also contagious. They can be transmitted from person to person in many of the same ways, including:

  • coming into close contact with a person who has a viral infection
  • contact with the body fluids of a person with a viral infection
  • transmission from mother to child during pregnancy or birth
  • coming into contact with contaminated surfaces

Also, similarly to bacterial infections, viral infections can be transmitted by the bite of an infected insect or through consuming food or water that has been contaminated.

Some examples of viral infections include:

COVID-19 is another illness caused by a virus. This virus commonly causes:

  • shortness of breath
  • fever
  • dry cough

Call emergency medical services if you experience the following symptoms:

  • trouble breathing
  • bluish lips
  • severe fatigue
  • consistent pain or tightness in the chest

A cold can cause a stuffy or runny nose, sore throat, and low fever, but is a cold bacterial or viral?

The common cold is caused by a number of different viruses, although rhinoviruses are most often the culprit.

There’s not much you can do to treat a cold except wait it out and use over-the-counter (OTC) medications to help relieve your symptoms.

In some cases, a secondary bacterial infection may develop during or following a cold. Common examples of secondary bacterial infections include:

You may have developed a bacterial infection if:

  • symptoms last longer than 10 to 14 days
  • symptoms continue to get worse rather than improving over several days
  • you have a higher fever than normally observed with a cold

Can you use mucus color to determine if it’s a bacterial or viral infection?

You should avoid using mucus color to determine whether you have a viral or bacterial infection.

There’s a long-held belief that green mucus indicates a bacterial infection that requires antibiotics. In fact, green mucus is actually caused by substances released by your immune cells in response to a foreign invader.

You can have green mucus due to many things, including:

  • viruses
  • bacteria
  • seasonal allergies

When you experience symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea, or abdominal cramps, you likely have a stomach bug. But is it due to a viral or bacterial infection?

Stomach bugs generally fall into two categories based on how they’re acquired:

  • Gastroenteritis is an infection of the digestive tract. It’s caused by coming into contact with stool or vomit from a person with the infection.
  • Food poisoning is an infection of the digestive tract caused by consuming contaminated food or liquids.

Gastroenteritis and food poisoning can be caused by both viruses and bacteria. Regardless of the cause, many times your symptoms will go away in a day or two with good home care.

However, symptoms that last longer than 3 days, cause bloody diarrhea, or lead to severe dehydration may indicate a more severe infection that requires prompt medical treatment.

Sometimes your doctor may be able to diagnose your condition based on your medical history and your symptoms.

For example, conditions like measles or chickenpox have very characteristic symptoms that can be diagnosed with a simple physical examination.

Additionally, if there’s a current epidemic of a particular disease, your doctor will factor that into their diagnosis. An example is influenza, which causes seasonal epidemics in the cold months of every year.

If your doctor wants to know what type of organism may be causing your condition, they may take a sample to culture. Samples that can be used for culture vary by the suspected condition, but they can include:

  • blood
  • mucus or sputum
  • urine
  • stool
  • skin
  • cerebral spinal fluid (CSF)

When a microorganism is cultured, it allows your doctor to identify what’s causing your condition. In the case of a bacterial infection, it can also help them determine which antibiotic may be helpful in treating your condition.

Antibiotics are medications used to treat bacterial infections.

There are many types of antibiotics, but they all work to keep bacteria from effectively growing and dividing. They’re not effective against viral infections.

Despite the fact that you should only take antibiotics for a bacterial infection, antibiotics are often requested for viral infections. This is dangerous because over-prescribing antibiotics can lead to antibiotic resistance.

Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria adapt to be able to resist certain antibiotics. It can make many bacterial infections more difficult to treat.

If you’re prescribed antibiotics for a bacterial infection, take your entire course of antibiotics — even if you begin to feel better after a couple of days. Skipping doses can prevent killing all of the pathogenic bacteria.

There’s no specific treatment for many viral infections. Treatment is typically focused on relieving symptoms, while your body works to clear the infection. This can include things like:

  • drinking fluids to prevent dehydration
  • getting plenty of rest
  • using OTC pain medications, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) to relieve aches, pains, and fever
  • taking OTC decongestants to help with a runny or stuffy nose
  • sucking on a throat lozenge to help ease a sore throat

Antiviral medications

In some cases, your doctor may prescribe an antiviral medication to help treat your condition.

Antiviral medications inhibit the viral life cycle in some way.

Some examples include medications like oseltamivir (Tamiflu) for influenza or valacyclovir (Valtrex) for herpes simplex or herpes zoster (shingles) viral infections.

You can follow the tips below to help prevent becoming ill with a bacterial or viral infection:

Practice good hygiene

Be sure to wash your hands before eating, after using the bathroom, and before and after handling food.

Avoid touching your face, mouth, or nose if your hands aren’t clean. Don’t share personal items such as:

  • eating utensils
  • drinking glasses
  • toothbrushes

Get vaccinated

Many vaccines are available to help prevent various viral and bacterial illnesses. Examples of vaccine-preventable diseases include:

Talk to your doctor about the vaccines that are available to you.

Don’t go out if you’re sick

Stay home if you’re ill to help prevent transmitting your infection to other people.

If you must go out, wash your hands frequently and sneeze or cough into the crook of your elbow or into a tissue. Be sure to properly dispose of any used tissues.

Practice safe sex

Using condoms or other barrier methods can help prevent getting sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Limiting your number of sexual partners has also been shown to reduce your riskTrusted Source of getting an STD.

Make sure food is cooked thoroughly

Make sure all meats are cooked to the proper temperature. Be sure to thoroughly wash any raw fruits or vegetables before eating.

Don’t let leftover food items sit at room temperature. Instead, refrigerate them promptly.

Protect against bug bites

Be sure to use insect repellent containing ingredients such as DEET or picaridin if you’re going to be outside where insects, such as mosquitoes and ticks, are prevalent.

Wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts, if possible.

Bacteria and viruses cause many common infections, and these infections can be transmitted in many of the same ways.

Sometimes your doctor can diagnose your condition by a simple physical examination. Other times, they may need to take a sample to culture to determine if a bacterial or viral infection is causing your illness.

Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections. Treatment of viral infections focuses on treating symptoms while the infection runs its course. Although in some cases, antiviral medications may be used.

You can help prevent getting sick with or transmitting bacterial and viral infections by:

  • practicing good hygiene
  • getting vaccinated
  • staying home when you’re sick
JPeei Clinic

Signs of Bacterial Infection: Cuts, Burns, and in the Body

signs of infection

 What is a bacterial infection?

A bacterial infection occurs when bacteria enter your body and begin to multiply.

Not all bacteria are bad. In fact, various species of bacteria begin to colonize our bodies shortly after we’re born. These bacteria are harmless and can offer us benefits sometimes, like helping with digestion.

Some types of bacteria, referred to as pathogenic bacteria, are harmful to us. When they infect us, they can cause disease.

Some of these infections can become serious, so be sure to see your doctor if you think you have a bacterial infection. For example, a minor skin infection may develop into cellulitis if left untreated.

Additionally, some infections can lead to a life-threatening condition called sepsis. It’s an extreme response by your body to an infection.

Below, we’ll explore some of the signs and symptoms of a bacterial infection in cuts, burns, and within the body.

Signs and symptoms of a bacterial infection may vary depending on the location of the infection and the type of bacteria that’s causing it. However, some general symptoms of a bacterial infection include:

  • fever
  • feeling tired or fatigued
  • swollen lymph nodes in the neck, armpits, or groin
  • headache
  • nausea or vomiting


Your skin is your body’s first defense against infection. Breaks in the skin, like cuts, scrapes, or surgical incisions, can provide an entryway into the body for bacteria.

Symptoms of an infected cut or wound can include:

  • redness in the area of the wound, particularly if it spreads or forms a red streak
  • swelling or warmth in the affected area
  • pain or tenderness at or around the site of the wound
  • pus forming around or oozing from the wound
  • fever
  • swollen lymph nodes in the neck, armpits, or groin
  • delayed wound healing


Burns happen when the tissues of your body are exposed to things like heat, radiation, or chemicals. Burns can vary in severity, from only affecting the top layer of skin to reaching layers of tissue deep beneath the skin.

People with burns are at risk for developing complications, such as a bacterial infection. Symptoms that a burn has become infected include:

  • an increase in pain or discomfort around the affected area
  • redness in the area of the burn, especially if it begins to spread or form a red streak
  • swelling or warmth in the affected area
  • fluid or pus oozing from the burn site
  • a bad smell around the burn

If your burn causes a blister to form, that area is at risk of becoming infected if the blister bursts.

In the body

Bacteria can cause a variety of other infections in your body.

Below is just a small sampling of infections you may already be familiar with. As you can see, the symptoms for these infections vary by the type of bacteria causing the infection and the part of your body that’s affected.

Strep throat

Strep throat is an infection of the throat caused by a type of bacteria called group A Streptococcus. Symptoms include:

  • sore throat
  • difficulty swallowing
  • red or white patches on the back of the throat
  • headache
  • loss of appetite

Urinary tract infection

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) occur when bacteria from your rectum or skin enter your urinary tract. UTI symptoms can include:

  • a burning sensation when urinating
  • having to urinate frequently
  • cloudy urine
  • abdominal cramps
  • fever


Pneumonia is an infection that inflames the air sacs in your lungs. Bacteria such as Streptococcus pneumoniae can cause it. Symptoms of pneumonia include:

  • cough
  • pain in your chest
  • fever
  • sweating or chills
  • shortness of breath
  • feeling tired or fatigued

Food poisoning

Food poisoning can happen when you consume food or water that’s been contaminated with bacteria. Some types of bacteria that cause food poisoning include Escherichia coliListeria, and Salmonella. Symptoms can include:

  • nausea or vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • abdominal cramps
  • fever

Bacterial meningitis

Meningitis is inflammation of the tissues that surround the brain and spinal cord. Bacterial meningitis can develop from several types of bacteria, including Streptococcus pneumoniae and Neisseria meningitidis. Symptoms include:

  • headache
  • stiff neck
  • fever
  • nausea or vomiting
  • confusion
  • sensitivity to light


An untreated bacterial infection can also put you at risk for developing a life-threatening condition called sepsis.

Sepsis occurs when an infection causes an extreme reaction in your body. The bacteria most likelyTrusted Source to cause sepsis include Staphylococcus aureusE. coli, and some types of Streptococcus.

Sepsis is always a medical emergency. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience any of the following:

  • shortness of breath
  • fast heart rate
  • fever
  • being in severe pain or discomfort
  • chills or sweating
  • confusion

Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections. These medications target specific bacterial processes and can either kill bacteria or prevent them from multiplying.

There are many different classes of antibiotics available. The antibiotic a healthcare provider prescribes you will depend on the type of bacteria causing your infection. This is because some bacteria may be susceptible to a specific antibiotic, but others may not.

If your infection is mild, you’ll likely be given an oral course of antibiotics. Always be sure to take your entire course of antibiotics, even if you begin to feel better. Not finishing your antibiotics can cause some bacteria to survive, and your infection may come back.

If your infection is serious, you may need to be treated in a hospital. In this case, stronger antibiotics may be given via an IV.

In addition to taking antibiotics, treatment can also involve easing your symptoms. For example, taking pain-relief medication for a headache or aches and pains, or taking an anti-diarrheal to help stop diarrhea.

Be sure to follow the tips below to prevent bacterial infections:

  • Get vaccinated. Many bacterial infections are vaccine-preventable, such as whooping cough, tetanus, and bacterial meningitis.
  • Moisturize your skin. Dry skin can crack, which can allow bacteria in.
  • Practice good hygiene. Wash your hands frequently, especially before eating and after using the bathroom. If your hands aren’t clean, avoid touching your face, nose, or mouth. Taking regular baths and showers can also help wash off potentially harmful bacteria from your skin.
  • Avoid sharing personal items. Sharing things like toothbrushes or drinking glasses can transmit bacteria.
  • Cook food to the correct temperature. Eating raw or undercooked food can lead to food poisoning.
  • Keep wounds clean. Make sure wounds are cleaned as soon as possible. Only touch the area of the wound with clean hands, and avoid picking or scratching. If you have a bandage or dressing, be sure to change it regularly or according to your doctor’s instructions.
  • Use antibiotic ointment. If you have a wound, using Neosporin can help keep bacteria out. Make sure you only apply a thin layer to the site with clean hands.
  • Practice safe sex. Many sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as gonorrhea and chlamydia, are caused by bacteria. Wear a condom and get regular STI screenings.

Always make an appointment with your doctor if you have:

  • difficulty breathing
  • a persistent cough, or coughing up pus
  • unexplained redness or swelling of the skin, especially if the redness is expanding or forms a red streak
  • a persistent fever
  • frequent vomiting and trouble holding liquids down
  • nausea or vomiting that’s causing dehydration
  • blood in urine, vomit, or stool
  • severe abdominal pain or cramping
  • severe headache
  • a sore throat that lasts longer than two days
  • a cut, incision, or burn that appears to be infected

You can connect to a physician in your area using the Healthline FindCare tool.

Bacteria can cause a variety of infections in your body. Because bacterial infections can become serious if left untreated, it’s very important to know what signs and symptoms to look out for.

If you suspect that you have a bacterial infection, make an appointment with your doctor. The sooner you get treatment, the sooner you can feel start feeling better.

JPeei Clinic

Are Bacterial Infections Contagious?

are bacterial infections contagious

 What are bacteria, and are they all harmful?

Many infectious diseases are caused by viruses and bacteria.

Bacteria are microorganisms that are made up of a single cell. They can be found in a wide variety of environments. Most bacteria are harmless and don’t cause disease in people. In fact, you have large numbers of beneficial bacteria living in your digestive tract that help you digest your food.

There are some instances when bacteria can cause disease in people. These bacteria are referred to as pathogenic bacteria. Bacterial diseases that you may recognize include:

  • strep throat
  • tuberculosis
  • gonorrhea

Pathogenic bacteria are infectious, meaning that they can enter your body and begin to cause disease. However, not all bacterial pathogens are contagious. Contagious means that a disease can spread from person to person.

Read on to learn more about bacterial infections, which types are contagious, and how they spread.

The amount of time that a bacterial infection is contagious can vary depending on what type of bacteria is causing your illness.

When do you begin to be contagious?

For some infections, such as strep throat and whooping cough, you’re considered to be contagious when you start to experience symptoms.

Other infections, such as chlamydia, can be asymptomatic, meaning they don’t present symptoms. For this reason, you could transmit these infections to other people without knowing it.

When are you no longer contagious?

Antibiotics are often used to treat bacterial infections. These medications specifically target bacterial functions and can either kill bacteria or prevent them from thriving.

You’re typically considered no longer contagious after you’ve been on a regimen of antibiotics for a period of time, which depends on your type of infection.

For example, you’re no longer contagious with strep throat after you’ve been on antibiotics for 24 hours and no longer have a fever.

Additionally, you’re no longer contagious with whooping cough after five full days on antibiotics. People with chlamydia should abstain from sexual activity until they’ve completed seven days of antibiotic treatment.

It’s very important to speak with your doctor about your infection and how long you should expect to be contagious. Knowing this information can help prevent you from infecting others while you recover.

Bacterial infections can be acquired in several different ways, depending on the type of infection. Let’s explore some examples of how some bacterial illnesses are spread.

Whooping cough

Whooping cough, or pertussis, is a very contagious respiratory illness. The bacteria that causes it can be expelled in respiratory droplets that are formed when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

If you inhale these droplets, you may become infected. Touching contaminated objects such as doorknobs can also spread the infection.


Impetigo is a very contagious skin infection. The infection can be acquired by direct skin-to-skin contact with an infected person. You can also get it by using an object, such as a towel, that’s been contaminated with the bacteria.


Cellulitis is a bacterial skin infection that’s infectious but not usually contagious. You can get cellulitis when bacteria that are normally present on the surface of your skin invade the deeper layers of your skin through something like a cut, scrape, or burn.


Salmonella is a type of foodborne illness. People with salmonella can be contagious, as the bacteria can spread through feces. People with the infection who don’t follow proper hygiene procedures can spread the bacteria to objects and food.

Animals such as chickens, cows, and reptiles also carry salmonella. You can become infected if you come into contact with these animals and don’t wash your hands afterward. You can also acquire the bacteria through contaminated meats, eggs, or milk.


Chlamydia is a common contagious sexually transmitted infection (STI). It can be spread through coming into sexual contact with someone who has it.

The bacteria can also be spread from mother to child during childbirth.

Lyme disease

Lyme disease is an infectious bacterial disease that’s spread to humans through the bite of an infected tick. It doesn’t spread from person to person.

It depends.

The overall contagiousness of a disease involves many factors, including:

  • how many people in the population are susceptible to the disease
  • the amount of time an infected person is contagious
  • how many people an infected person is likely to come into contact with
  • how the disease is transmitted

Viruses are very tiny microorganisms that are even smaller than bacteria. They invade the cells of your body where they then use cellular components to replicate themselves. Some viral diseases that you may be familiar with include:

Measles, an airborne viral disease, is the most contagious infectious disease. A person with measles is able to infect anywhere between 12 to 18Trusted Source additional people in a susceptible population.

In contrast to this is Ebola, a viral disease that’s transmitted via contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person. Someone with Ebola may infect about twoTrusted Source additional susceptible people.

Whooping cough is the most contagious bacterial infection. Like measles, it’s primarily spread through the air. An infected individual can potentially infect anywhere between 12 to 17Trusted Source other susceptible people.

Comparatively, a person infected with diphtheria, another bacterial infection that can be spread through airborne droplets, may only infect six to sevenTrusted Source susceptible individuals.

As you can see, the overall contagiousness of a disease varies, regardless of if it’s bacterial or viral.

Not all bacterial conditions are contagious. This means that they aren’t spread from person to person but are instead acquired in other ways.

Some bacterial infections that are acquired from animals aren’t contagious. These infections are often spread through the bite of an infected animal. Some examples include:

Other bacterial infections are acquired through the environment. You can get them through contaminated food, or the bacteria can enter an infected wound directly from the surrounding environment. Examples include:

  • tetanus, which can enter the body from the environment through wounds or injuries
  • botulism, which can be acquired through contaminated food or through a wound
  • hot tub folliculitis, which is caused by a bacteria called Pseudomonas and happens when you use a poorly maintained hot tub
  • tularemia, which can get into the body through contaminated food or water or through inhaling bacteria from the environment

Some bacterial conditions themselves aren’t contagious, but the bacteria that can potentially cause them are contagious.

For example, the Staphylococcus bacteria itself can be transmitted from person to person through direct skin-to-skin contact, including through contact with fluids or pus from an infected wound. It can also be acquired through contact with a contaminated object.

Once the bacteria have colonized, they can stay on your body for a few months up to several yearsTrusted Source. It’s possible to have Staphylococcus bacteria on your body and never become ill. However, the bacteria can sometimes take advantage of wounds or other breaks in the skin to enter the body and cause conditions such as cellulitisabscesses, and folliculitis.

Many bacterial infections can be treated with a course of antibiotics, although some infections may be more serious.

It’s extremely important to finish the entire course of antibiotics your doctor prescribes for you. This not only increases the chance of eliminating the disease-causing bacteria from the body, but it also reduces the risk that antibiotics won’t be effective in the future.

Be sure to follow the tips below to reduce your risk of catching a contagious bacterial infection:

Practice good hand hygiene

Wash your hands frequently. Situations where you should always wash your hands include:

  • after using the bathroom
  • before eating
  • before and after cooking or preparing food
  • before touching your face, nose, or mouth

Don’t share personal items

Things such as toothbrushes, razors, and eating utensils can all spread disease.

Stay up-to-date on your vaccines

Many contagious bacterial infections, such as whooping cough, are preventable through vaccination.

Practice safe sex

Always use a condom if you have a new sexual partner or if your partner has a history of STIs.

JPeei Clinic