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12 – Unit 17: Causes and Spread of Infection

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1.1 Identify the differences between bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites.

Microorganisms, which include bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites, are responsible for a wide variety of infectious diseases and illnesses. On the other hand, there are a number of significant distinctions between them that must be comprehended in order to select the appropriate treatment for an infection.

Bacteria are single-celled prokaryotic organisms that reproduce through a process known as binary fission. Their cell walls are composed of peptidoglycan. They are capable of living as pathogens as well as in symbiotic relationships with other organisms. Antibiotics are the standard treatment for bacterial infections; however, not all bacteria are susceptible to the effects of these drugs; certain strains of bacteria may be resistant to antibiotics, making treatment more challenging for patients who are afflicted with bacterial illnesses.

Viruses are infectious agents that are made up of genetic material that is either wrapped in RNA or DNA and housed inside a protein coat called capsids. Unlike bacteria, viruses are unable to replicate themselves independently and do not contain ribosomes; as a result, they are dependent on the metabolic machinery of another living organism in order to reproduce themselves within it (host). Antibiotics are ineffective against viruses because their cells do not contain cell walls; therefore, specific antiviral drugs are required to help eradicate an infection caused by viruses.

In contrast to bacteria, fungi have cell walls composed of chitin, which makes them more resistant to treatment. Fungi can be either single-celled or multi-celled eukaryotic organisms, and they reproduce by producing spores. Fungi can also exist either as pathogens or symbiotically with other organisms. One of the most typical kinds of fungal infections, such as athlete’s foot and thrush, can often be treated effectively using antifungal medications such as creams, tablets and injections but severe infections may require surgery for removal.

Parasites are organisms that live off another living organism called the host in order to survive; this means the parasites feed on food intended for the host’s own use, which can weaken it due to anaemia caused by blood loss from malnourishment. These types of microorganisms range from protozoa (single-celled) amoeba all way up to macroscopic organisms such as nematodes, trematodes and cestodes. Treatment for these organisms depends on the severity of the infection; most cases are treated with antibiotics or antiparasitic medications, although surgery may be necessary in some cases.

Other answers in the full document:

  • 1.2 Identify common illnesses and infections caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites
  • 1.3 Describe what is meant by infection and colonisation
  • 1.4 Explain what is meant by systemic infection and localised infection
  • 1.5 Identify poor practices that may lead to the spread of infection.
  • 1.6 Identify how an understanding of poor practices, can be applied to own professional practice
  • 2.1 Explain the conditions needed for the growth of micro-Organisms
  • 2.2 Explain the ways an infective agent might enter the body
  • 2.3 Identify common sources of infection
  • 2.4 Explain how infective agents can be transmitted to a person
  • 2.5 Identify the key factors that will make it more likely that infection will occur
  • 2.6 Discuss the role of a national public health body in communicable disease outbreaks

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