Bacteria is everywhere, and they're essential for the continuation of life on Earth. While many of these microorganisms are beneficial others can trigger serious illnesses in humans. In order for harmful bacteria to attack you, they must enter your body and there are a number of ways they can do this. Bacteria is in the air, the foods you eat and on the surfaces of most objects. Infections can be prevented by good sanitary practices and antibiotics. Some types of bacteria, however, are becoming resistant to the effects of drugs making fears of an untreatable superbug all the more unnerving. Here are some common diseases caused by bacteria.
This is caused by a nerve toxin that comes from the bacterium, Clostridium botulinum. Many cases result from eating contaminated food, but it may not be possible to see or taste the bacteria. The disease is serious and death can result from respiratory failure.
People can catch this disease in many parts of the world, particularly in developing countries with untreated drinking water. It's extremely rare in industrialized nations. Cholera is caused by the Vibrio cholerae bacteria, and they target the large intestine. Those who are sick will experience mild to severe diarrhea, along with vomiting and dehydration. It's vital to replace lost fluids by drinking oral rehydration salts.
This is a rare form of pneumonia. The bacteria can be found in ponds, creeks, fountains, hot water tanks, and water in air-conditioning cooling towers. Legionella pneumophila must be inhaled for somebody to become ill. It can't be passed from one person to another. Symptoms resemble the flu and people who have compromised immune systems, such as the elderly, will be at greater risk.
There are several variations of meningitis. Bacterial meningitis is one type which requires immediate attention, because it causes inflammation of the thin layers of tissue around the brain and spinal cord. When an infected person coughs or sneezes, particles get out into the air and an otherwise healthy individual can get sick by inhaling them. The pathogens travel via the respiratory tract to the bloodstream, and finally to the brain.
The most unsettling reminder of how this disease can affect humans goes all the way back to the fourteenth century. In Europe, people were sickened by the plague, which we know call the Black Death. In the 1300s it wasn't known what caused the disease and nobody had the benefits of laboratories and antibiotics. Of course, rats and the fleas that went along with them were the culprits.