While some infections can cause the common cold or mild skin conditions, there are many that can negatively affect your body in life-threatening ways. It’s important to maintain a strong immune system, while also understanding how the different branches of infectious diseases can invade your body.
It’s estimated that there are at least one nonillion (A nonillion contains 30 zeros following the one) bacteria floating around the globe. They can live in almost any environment, as extreme heat or cold doesn’t phase them. Bacteria can also survive in radioactive material, some of them at least. Few of the trillions of bacteria strains can cause disease in humans. Some good bacteria living within the body without causing harm, while others can be deadly. Some of these harmful bacteria include cholera, tuberculosis, pneumonia, bubonic plague and typhoid. In regards to bacterial infections specifically, sinusitis, food poisoning, gastritis, sexually transmitted diseases and urinary tract infections are just a few of the many out there. Many of these infections can be treated with antibiotics, but few strains have been known to become resistant during treatment.
Millions of viruses exist in the world, but only around 5,000 have been identified so far. Each virus contains a small piece of genetic coding that’s protected by a shield of protein and fat. They attach to other cells once within the host’s system. Once they’re in the cell, the virus will release genetic material that forces the cell to replicate, therefore allowing the virus to multiply. What an infected cell dies, that’s it, right? Wrong. The cell will release the virus once it’s dead, which will then proceed to infect new cells. Common virus infections include warts, meningitis, gastroenteritis, hepatitis C, HIV and Ebola. Antiviral medication can help in certain cases, usually through prevention or boosting the immune system. Antibiotics, however, have no effect against viruses.
A fungus is usually a multi-cellular parasite that’s able to break down before being absorbed into organic matter. With about 51 million fungus species known today, they typically reproduce through the spreading of spores. Many fungal infections appear in the upper layer of skin, while others can bore deeper. The inhalation of fungus spores can lead to systemic fungal infections, which affect the whole body. Good bacteria within the body helps to maintain balance among its microorganisms. However, if enough good bacteria are killed by treatments such as overusing antibiotics, then fungus can grow in its place, causing health problems. Using strong antibiotics or having a weak immune system will leave you more vulnerable to developing a fungal infection like ringworm, athlete’s foot or valley fever.
A protein without any genetic material, a prion infection is usually harmless. However, if it folds into a strange shape, then it has the potential to affect the brain’s structure as well as parts of the nervous system. While prions don’t replicate or feed off of their host, they’re capable of triggering abnormal behaviour in your body’s cells. Diseases caused by prions are rare, but they can progress quickly and are often fatal.
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