Difference Between Viruses and Bacteria
One of the ways you can group infections is by their causative agents. This can be confusing at times if the agents in question are similar. A lot of people tend to wave these similarities aside, but if you are a professional health personnel, it is important for you to understand the specifications of each of them. On that note, let’s take a look at the difference between bacteria and viruses.
These organisms are so small that they cannot be seen, except with the help of a microscope. They cause similar sicknesses, but they have quite a number of traits that make them dissimilar. Let’s take a look at their definitions and traits that are specific to their existence.
Definition of Virus
Virus is defined as a parasitic and infectious organism that invade and multiply in living organisms. Its composition is very simple, unlike other agents, making it prevalent that they are placed in a kingdom of their own. One difference between viruses and bacteria is this – as parasitic substances, they are cannot exist on their own. To reproduce or carry out a metabolic process, they always need a host cell.
Do they really cause infection?
Yes, viruses cause infections most of the time when they come in contact with a favorable condition that allows them to reproduce and metabolize. Quite a number of dreadful diseases have been caused by this substance; some of them are HIV, Zika, Ebola, polio, rabies, polio, measles, small pox, etc. That notwithstanding, a few of them are friendly and help in protecting our bodies against dangerous bacteria. Example – E. coli.
One major difference between virus and bacteria is that the later can exist and reproduce on its own unlike the former that needs a host organism to survive and replicate. This organism is naturally designed to exist on other host cells, including reproduction. They do not have organelles of their own, so they use that of their host.
To do this, they inject their genetic material into other conducive cells that go ahead to replicate viral genes and initiates the development of viral components. After maturity, the components make their way out of the host and proceeds to infect other cells.
Definition of Bacteria
Bacteria are micro-organic prokaryotic single cells characterized by a lack of organelles or nucleus. A feature of this organism that addresses the question – what is the difference between bacteria and virus? – is its ability to live on its own so long as the environment is favorable. They can be found in a lot of places including inside humans, animals, water, soil, etc.
Do they really cause infections?
Some professionals describe the relationship between humans and these organisms as bitter-sweet. That is, they can be sweet most of the time and promote good health, but there are times they contribute to health complications.
Some of the problems you may encounter as a result of the unfriendly bacteria include pneumonia, meningitis, food poisoning, and tuberculosis. These diseases can be treated with antibiotics, which is noteworthy when addressing the question – what is the difference between a virus and bacteria?
The best way to protect yourself against these organisms is to maintain standard personal hygiene, especially washing and drying your hands properly as often as possible.
A major difference between a virus and bacteria is in the way their replicate. In this case, the organisms do not need much to reproduce, just a favorable environment. Their reproduction process is the binary fission, which is asexual and exponential if the conditions surrounding them continues to be favorable.
Viruses vs Bacteria Comparison Table
The difference between bacteria and virus as stated above are not all there is to it. There are many other ways to show that these two organisms are different. Here is a comparison table to that effect.
|Basis of Comparison
|Parasitic and infectious organism that invade and multiply in living organisms
|Self-sustaining micro-organic prokaryotic single cells characterized by a lack of organelles or nucleus
|No cell wall. Protein coat present instead
|Peptidoglycan or Lipopolysaccharide
|Somewhat less than a cell
|Exists as a complete cell
|Somewhat between living and non-living
|Cannot replicate without the help of a host
|Can replicate on its own
|Method of reproduction
|Asexual – by fission
|Hepatitis, Influenza, Ebola, HIV, rhino, etc.
|Choroflexi, Chlamydiae, Bactoriodetes, Fibrobacteres, etc.
|Smaller (20-400 nm)
|Larger (1000 nm)
|Duration of sickness
|Diseases under this category typically last between 2 to 10 days
|Diseased under this category last longer than 10 days
Conclusion of the Main Difference Between Viruses vs Bacteria
The points in the table above are some of the ways one can answer the question – what is the difference between virus and bacteria? The sizes, method of reproduction, presence of cell walls, etc states these differences. On the other hand, when it comes to similarities, you can say they are both microscopic, do not have nucleus, and there is a presence of virulence in both of them.