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What are bacteria and viruses?

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What are bacteria and viruses? Bacteria and viruses are the most important causes of disease. Bacteria are simple plants like organisms that can divide very quickly. They cause many common infections such as boils and acne. Viruses are very much smaller, and technically they are not alive at all.

They can take over the functioning of an infected cell and turn it into a factory producing millions more viruses. Viruses are responsible for many common diseases such as colds and influenza.

What happens if the immune system doesn't work?

Very rarely, a baby is born without a proper immune system. It will have no resistance to infection. When this happens, the baby has to live in a plastic bubble from which all germs are kept out. Sometimes the immune system recovers as the child grows, so they can be release d from the bubble.

As viruses invade a cell they shed their outer layer and take over the genetic material in the host cell in order to reproduce themselves.They begin to construct protein coats around the new viruses and eventually burst out of the host cell (5) or leave it in an envelope ready to infect new cells.

How are babies protected from infections?

A newborn baby is protected from infection by antibodies that were present in its mother's blood. The mother's blood contains antibodies to the infections to which she has become immune during her life. These antibodies are transferred to the baby's blood via the placenta that nourished the baby in the womb.

The antibodies continue to protect the baby for several weeks, while its own immune system develops and begins to work properly. This period of protection is increased if the mother breast feeds her baby, as her milk will also contain these antibodies. Bottle fed babies do not have this natural immunity.


Tags: bacteria, infection, immune system, viruses



Category: Health  - ( Health Archive)

Date Added: 22 December '11


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