The use of biological and synthetic chemical compounds with antimicrobial properties have been in use in the management of various microbial infections since time immemorial (Arcangelo & Peterson, 2006), and consists of substances that are used to kill or inhibit the growth and development of microbes (Leekha et al., 2011). Prior to the detection of antimicrobial agents, treatment and management alternatives for many microbial infections were very limited, and many exhibited severe complications such as renal failure, blindness, limb amputations, neuropathy, and in extreme cases death (Kayser et al., 2005). Therefore, this essay provides a summary of various categories of antimicrobial agents, the differences between viral and bacterial infections, and reasons why proper identification of viral and bacterial infections is important towards selecting the proper antimicrobial agent.
Antimicrobial is described as a universal term for the chemicals substances that either destroy or inhibit the growth and development of microbes, and they are categorized according to the type of microorganisms they affect (Leekha et al., 2011). For example, antibiotics are defined as chemical substances that primarily act against bacteria while antivirals are defined as chemical substances that act against viruses. They are also categorized according to their function, where antimicrobials that kill microbes are classified as microbicidal, while those that merely inhibit their growth and development are classified as microbiostatic. Antimicrobial agents are also categorized based on their range of efficiency, with broad-spectrum agents consisting of antimicrobials that act against a diverse range of microbes and narrow-spectrum agents that act specifically against a specific group of microbes (Kayser et al., 2005). Microbiologists also categorize antimicrobials according to their mode of synthesis, with synthetic agents consisting of substances synthesized in the laboratory while organic agents consisting of metabolic substances produced by microorganism or compounds extracted from plants (Leekha et al., 2011).
Bacterial and viral infections are different from each other in most aspects. Bacterial infections are described as infections primarily caused by bacteria (Arcangelo & Peterson, 2006). Compared to viruses, bacteria are single-celled microorganisms, and...