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Viruses and bacteria are known to cause deadly infections and damage one’s health. While both organisms are invisible to the naked eye and neither of them contains a nucleus, there are several distinctions between the two.
The size of a virus can range from 10 to 100 times smaller than that of a bacterium. Viruses are acellular infectious agents that only contain a protein coat sans a cell wall, whereas bacteria are unicellular prokaryotic microorganisms that possess a cell wall consisting of peptidoglycan or lipopolysaccharide. In terms of structure, DNA or RNA are enclosed within the protein coat of a virus. As for a bacterium, both DNA and RNA are in its cytoplasm.
A living host is required by viruses to multiply and reproduce inside the host cells as they are intracellular organisms, thus changing their host’s genetic material to produce new viruses instead. Bacteria are intercellular organisms that reproduce through fission and thrive on non-living surfaces, not necessarily causing harm. Therefore, all viruses are indeed harmful, but there are some good and useful bacteria, which are usually present in the intestines to aid the digestion of food.
The type of infection that viruses cause is systemic in comparison to localized infections caused by bacteria. Some examples of viral infections include chickenpox, the common cold, bronchitis, and in severe cases – HIV/AIDS. On the other hand, urinary tract infection, tuberculosis, and whooping cough are caused by bacterial infections. In that sense, there is a significant difference between the courses of treatment.
In order to differentiate the cause of an infection, it is necessary for a doctor to conduct certain tests such as taking a urine, blood or stool sample from the patient to identify the microbes responsible for the disease or infection. Once the causative agent has been detected, a first-line treatment can be carried out. To overcome a viral infection, it is vital to manage the symptoms first. Constantly staying hydrated with warm fluids such as drinking honey with some lemon juice to minimize coughs is essential. To relieve a fever, antipyretics or analgesics are useful. The main way to stop viral reproduction is by conducting an antiretroviral therapy for diseases such as HIV/AIDs and Herpes simplex. It is possible to prevent a viral infection from occurring by getting vaccinated against flu and hepatitis, to name a few. To treat bacterial infections, antibiotics are usually necessary. However, due to antibiotic resistance, they should only be prescribed for serious infections. That being said, antibiotics cannot treat viral infections.
In conclusion, a virus and a bacterium are commonly mistaken for one another but there are important differences between the two that can lead to the necessary course of treatment to save one’s life.

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