We are surrounded by an incredible number of germs every day and they are also very active in our bodies. We also need them there so that our organism "runs smoothly". But there are germs that can harm us - we get sick. Most of the time, our body can defend itself quite well against infections thanks to the immune system, but as the saying goes: "Prevention is better than cure!"
With this article we want to give a little insight into the world and diversity of germs - bacteria, fungi, viruses. What is it that crawls and flies on surfaces or infects us through the air? How can we become infected and how long do these beasts survive?
Name: Streptococcus Species: Bacterium Symptoms: The most common bacterium, S. pyogenes can cause many different illnesses, including local purulent infections of the skin or throat, such as middle ear, sinus, pharyngitis or tonsillitis but also scarlet fever. If an infection is not treated, it can lead to further illnesses such as rheumatic fever, neurological abnormalities or even movement disorders. Transmission route: Smear and droplet infection, direct contact or via surfaces. Survival: 3 days to 6.5 months
Name: Candida albicans
Type: Yeast fungus
Symptoms: The yeast fungus normally permanently colonises mucous membranes in the mouth and intestines as well as the skin. In healthy people, however, the immune system has the fungus well under control. With a weakened immune system, skin infections occur, but infestation of the internal organs or sepsis are also possible consequences.
Transmission: Through direct or indirect contact with infected skin or surfaces
Survival: 1 day to 4 months
Symptoms: Typical symptoms are a sudden feeling of illness, fever, sore throat and dry cough, accompanied by muscle, limb, back or head pain. If the infection is uncomplicated, it usually subsides after five to seven days. However, it can also take a severe course, leading to death in the worst case. The most common complications are pneumonia and middle ear infections in children.
Transmission: Infection with the influenza virus usually occurs via droplet infection from person to person or from surfaces to person. By coughing, sneezing, even talking, others in the environment can catch it from infected people.
Survival: 1 to 2 days
Name: Escherichia coli (E. coli)
Symptoms: There are "harmless" E. coli bacteria that are part of the normal human intestinal flora. The harmful variants can cause urinary tract infections, severe diarrhoea, wound and respiratory infections and blood poisoning. The bacteria are also the most frequent causes of infections after operations, so-called nosocomial infections.
Transmission: Transmission occurs through the ingestion of minute traces of faeces via direct or indirect contact with contaminated persons, animals or objects. Inadequately heated food or contaminated water, even when bathing, can also cause infections. The incubation period is three to five days.
Survival: 1.5 hours to 16 months
Symptoms: Typical food poisoning with severe diarrhoea
Transmission: Transmission occurs through direct contact with infected persons or indirectly through contaminated food or via surfaces. Classic examples of sources of infection are insufficiently heated eggs or poultry, raw meat or ice cream. However, the bacteria can also get into the food via contaminated kitchen equimpent (e.g. cutting boards).
Survival: 1 day up to 4 years
Name: Corona (COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2)
Symptoms: Mild cold symptoms with cough, fever, cold, loss of smell and taste, up to severe pneumonia with lung failure, but sometimes no symptoms at all despite infection.
Transmission: High risk of infection through droplet infection or aerosols produced when breathing, coughing, speaking, singing and sneezing, as well as through surfaces.
Survival: up to 28 days
To be continued...
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Published: 4. February 2021 (Last update: 11. June 2021)