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The Study Of Germs Essay

3875 words - 16 pages

GERMSFor as long as humans have been on this planet, the microscopic life forms that we call germs, or pathogens, have been here too. For all this time they have been multiplying in the soil, in the water, and in our bodies. They are in the mouth, on the skin, and even in important organs. But that is not always a bad thing, because humans could not live without germs. Some germs, or "microbes" help digest food, while others produce vitamins. Most of the time, people and germs coexist peacefully; in fact there are trillions of germs on you right now.Even though some germs are good for us and help us, others can give us diseases. Some diseases only make us sick for a period of time, while others cause incurable and deadly illnesses. Such diseases as cancer and diabetes result mostly from environmental conditions or inherited weaknesses. They are considered noninfectious diseases because one person or animal cannot make another one sick.For a long time, people thought germ-born illnesses could be conquered by science. In the late 1900s, new vaccinations and drugs seemed to have them on the run, but germs have bounced back. The drugs that once worked lost their punch, while new diseases keep cropping up. Medicine has made huge strides in fighting germs, but Earth's tiniest creatures remain our biggest foes.Germs are often called pathogens, which means "the causes of disease," in Greek. The four main types of pathogens are bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi. A bacterium is a simple one-celled organism. They are like us because their goal is to survive and prosper. Bacteria are three and a half billion years old. They are the most numerous living thing, and among the smallest. Bacteria can reproduce very fast. One bacterium can multiply into thousands in just a few hours. They attack by destroying healthy cells or releasing poisons. Bacteria can cause a wide range of illness, such as strep throat, cholera, leprosy, pneumonia, tuberculosis, typhoidfever, whooping cough, diphtheria, scarlet fever, tetanus, botulism, and anthrax. Most bacteriacan be stopped by antibiotics, but a large number of them can be resistant to drugs.A virus is a lifeless particle that is shaped like rods and spheres. The biggest virus is the size of the smallest bacterium. These tiny organisms can not move on their own. They are carried in water, food, wind, blood, and other body secretions. It springs to life after latching on to a living cell, then it invades the cell and creates more viruses. Like bacteria, viruses multiply quickly. Viruses can cause influenza, common cold, measles, mumps, rubella, polio, herpes, smallpox, AIDS, chicken pox, rabies, and yellow fever. When available, vaccines are the best defense.Parasites are one-celled organisms that look like worms. They can also be called protozoa. Like viruses, protozoa must invade suitable hosts in order to complete their life cycle. They are more complex than bacteria and viruses. When the worms start off, they are...

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