As we all know by now, there are organisms that are extremely small and can’t be viewed without the help of a microscope. Some microorganisms are not harmful, in fact, some are quite helpful (like the bacteria that is found in your gut). But a majority of them cause a lot of diseases in man and other organisms. Microorganisms include bacteria, algae, fungi, archaea, and protozoa. Even though viruses are very small and cause diseases, they are not technically classified as a microorganism as they are not considered to be “alive.”
Most of the microorganisms that we know are free-living, while other are parasites. Let’s take a glance at harmful microorganisms around us.
Except for genetic and congenital factors, most of the diseases are caused by certain microorganisms. These microbes are called pathogens. They are specially adapted to infect and multiply within a host.. Some diseases caused by pathogens are polio, cholera, mumps, rabies, malaria etc.
Some microorganisms need a carrier to transmit diseases. Here, Anopheles mosquitoes are the carriers used by the protozoan Plasmodium vivax to transmit the disease to the host. Once inside the host, the Plasmodium starts destroying red blood cells. This leads to other complications such as anemia and hypoxemia.
Other microbes directly enter the body through contaminated food, water, air or even just a small cut on your skin. The bacteria, A Streptococcus can enter your skin through an open wound. However, this bacteria is found in most people’s throat and are relatively harmless. But sometimes, the infection can be so severe that it can start eating living flesh and tissue. That’s why it’s also called “Flesh-eating bacteria” or “Necrotizing fasciitis.”
Most of the pathogenic diseases are communicable and infectious. Once pathogens enter the host body, they utilize the host nutrients; also invade the immune system of the host. These led to the discovery and development of antibiotics and vaccines.
Microorganisms are specific to their host. Some diseases affect only animals like Anthrax but they can be transmitted to human also. Some diseases like Crown gall disease infect plants by certain bacteria and viruses. The diseases affecting animals and plants can decrease quality and yield of the product and may lead to investment loss. Therefore it is necessary to control microbial growth.
The harmful microorganisms not only damage human body but also the food we eat. Sometimes, they multiply on food and release toxic products hence cause food poisoning. To avoid food poisoning, food preservation is done in various ways like pasteurization, salting, boiling etc.
In conclusion, most microorganisms are not harmful, but we have to take precautions against the ones that are.
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