Bacteria vs virus

Bacteria and virus are two terms that are easily confused. We will look at the difference in meaning between bacteria and virus, the singular and plural forms, where the terms come from and some examples of their use in sentences.

Bacteria are single-celled microorganisms that have cell walls but do not have an organized nucleus or organelles. Some strains of bacteria are beneficial while others cause disease. Disease-causing bacteria may be treated with antibiotics, though many diseases caused by bacteria are becoming antibiotic-resistant. The word bacteria is derived from the Greek word bakterion which means small staff, named by the German scientist Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg in 1828. However, Antony Van Leeuwenhoek discovered bacteria, calling them animalcules, in the mid-1600s. Bacteria is the plural form, the singular form is bacterium.

A virus is a submicroscopic agent made up of a single nucleic acid chain inside a protein coat. A virus may be beneficial or may cause disease. For the most part, when a disease caused by a virus is contracted, it is simply allowed to run its course. Antibiotics have no effect on a virus. There are a few anti-viral medicines but for the most part, it is best to depend on vaccines to avoid contracting a virus. The word virus comes from the Latin word virus, which means plant sap or poison. The first virus was discovered by Dimitrii Ivanovsky in 1892. Virus is the singular form, the plural form is viruses.


They have developed a novel technique that allows them to investigate the interplay of individual host cells with infecting bacteria. (Science Daily)

In what is the first evidence of multidrug resistance in poultry sold in Indian markets, researchers in Hyderabad have isolated a bacterium in chicken that may well be the source of transmission of the drug-resistant pathogen to humans. (The Hindu)

When viruses invade a mosquito’s body, there’s a battle between the insect’s immune system and the infection. (The Houston Chronicle)

To investigate, he and his team infected one group of mice with a murine influenza virus, and the other with Listeria monocytogenes, a bacterium that causes food poisoning. (The Economist)

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