Copyright

Bacteria & Viruses: Beneficial Uses & Deleterious Effects

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Overview of Cellular Respiration & Its Steps

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:00 Definition of Bacteria…
  • 1:26 Bacteria & Virus Damage
  • 2:30 Bacteria & Virus…
  • 3:32 Lesson Summary
Add to Add to Add to

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay
Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: David Wood

David has taught Honors Physics, AP Physics, IB Physics and general science courses. He has a Masters in Education, and a Bachelors in Physics.

What are bacteria and viruses? Learn about their harmful effects, as well as the benefits some of them provide to humans. Take a quiz and see how much you've learned.

Definition of Bacteria & Viruses

When you get sick, it's probably because of a bacterium or virus. Bacteria and viruses are agents that can be dangerous to humans and other animals. But bacteria and viruses are actually very different from each other.

Bacteria are single-celled organisms that are alive, and can live inside the human body. Viruses on the other hand are particles made of DNA or RNA, a protein coat, and an envelope of lipids (fats). They're not considered to be alive, since they can only reproduce by hijacking the ability of a nearby cell to reproduce. Viruses don't have any cells themselves, so they're not single-celled organisms; they aren't organisms at all. Bacteria are tiny, and viruses are even more minuscule than bacteria. In fact, there can be as many as a billion bacterial cells in a single gram of soil.

While bacteria and viruses do make us sick in many cases, the truth is that bacteria and viruses can both help and harm humans. There are lots of bacteria in the body that we need to help digest our food, for example. Bacteria can live in symbiotic relationships with both plants and animals; relationships where both organisms benefit. In this lesson we're going to talk about the damage caused by as well as the benefits stemming from both bacteria and viruses.

Bacteria & Viruses Damage

Most bacteria and viruses have no negative effects, but the ones we notice are those that do. Bacteria and viruses can both cause damage to our bodies, but they work in different ways. Bacteria can cause infections, and it's those infections that make us sick. Bacteria that do this are called pathogenic. They can cause diseases like cholera, syphilis, tuberculosis, and bubonic plague.

Viruses on the other hand cause diseases like the common cold, chickenpox, cold sores, Ebola, and AIDS. The effects of viruses can be caused by different things depending on the virus. Sometimes the virus can kill too many cells, causing the organism to suffer ill effects. Sometimes it can cause infection in the same way as bacteria.

There are both viruses and bacteria that can exist inside the body without any negative effects at all. For example, the virus that causes cold sores is found in most humans, even those who have never had a cold sore. But some viruses, such as the AIDS virus or Ebola, can cause death.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 160 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create An Account
Support