Bacterial Infections: Causes, Types, Transmission, Treatment & Prevention

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Bacterial infections are the infection caused by different types of bacteria. It occurs when the harmful strain of bacteria multiply on the surface or inside the body. Millions of bacteria are found in different parts of the body like skin, intestine, genitalia etc. They are responsible for mild to severe type of infections.There are two types of bacteria found in the body, harmful and helpful bacteria. The most bacteria in the body are either helpful, harmless, necessarily good for health and do not cause diseases. The bacteria that cause infection or diseases are called harmful or pathogenic bacteria.  Bacterial infections can bring many life threating complications such as blood poising, organ failure, tuberculosis, cholera etc. Bacteria can cause hundreds of infections. Some infections are common in childhood like ear infections, skin infections, throat infections and some bacterial infections are localized in a specific area or specific internal organs like surgical wounds, pneumonia, and meningitis.

Types of Bacterial Infections

The common bacterial infections include:

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  1. Skin infections: the common infection caused by bacteria in the skin includes folliculitis, cellulitis, impetigo, erysipelas, scarlet fever, infectious gangrene, erythrasma, keratolysis etc.
  2. Sexually transmitted infections: the common sexually transmitted bacterial infection includes; chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, bacterial vaginosis, etc.
  3. Foodborne infections: the common bacterial foodborne diseases include; Campylobacter jejuni, Clostridium botulism, Escherichia coli, salmonella etc.
  4. Other common infections: other common bacterial infections include; otitis media, bacterial meningitis, urinary tract infection, respiratory tract infections etc.

How do bacteria cause infections?

Bacteria can cause infection either by destroying cells directly or producing a toxin that kills cells and some bacteria are so numerous that the body cannot function normally.  

Transmission of bacterial infections

Bacterial infections can spread in different ways. The common ways of spreading includes;

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  • Through contaminated water (cholera, typhoid etc.)
  • By contaminated food (Salmonella food poising, botulism etc.)
  • Through sexual contact (syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia etc.)
  • By air- sneeze or a cough (tuberculosis)
  • Through contact with animals (anthrax)

Treatment of bacterial infections

The major treatment of the bacterial infection is done by medications. The medication should only be started after proper diagnosis. The best way of treatment is to take medication as per the physician’s prescription. The common drugs used for the treatment of the bacterial infections are; Penicillin, Amoxicillin, Azithromycin, metronidazole, tinidazole, cephalosporin, tetracycline, lincosamide, polypeptide etc.   

Prevention of bacterial infections

The prevention of bacterial infection is very important for us today. The number of resistant bacteria is growing each year and is responsible for the higher deaths of people from infections. Therefore, it is important to prevent bacterial infections. Here are some preventive methods that can be fruitful to avoid bacterial infections:

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  • Immunization

Many bacterial infections can be prevented by immunization or vaccination. The vaccines are available for diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough and Haemophilus influenza B and these vaccines can prevent bacterial infections. In addition, a vaccine is also available for typhoid fever, tuberculosis, cholera, meningococcal and pneumococcal infections.

Cholera treatment by the binaural method

  • Hygiene and sanitation

Hand washing is crucial in the preventing bacterial infection. The hands are exposed to bacteria from surfaces in the home, work environment, health facilities, vehicle, animals etc. and sneezing, coughing as well. Therefore, the hand should be washed with soap and clean water at the critical times like; after coughing and sneezing; before and after handling foods; before and after caring sick; after using a toilet; touching garbage, animals and after touching soil, dirt.  

  • Wash and cook food well

Washing and cooking food thoroughly, wash fruits and vegetables before consuming them, avoid eating raw or uncooked foods like meat, eggs etc. letting not cross-contaminate foods. These practices may help to reduce or avoid the bacteria from foods. The bacteria-free healthy foods and fruits fortify our immune system.

  • Avoid close contact

It is impossible to distinguish people with mild infections or severe infections. Therefore, it is best to avoid getting close who seems sick and avoid getting contact with a person infected with common cold flu or any other contagious diseases.

  • Use contraceptive devices

Abstaining from sexual contact or using condoms during sexual activity can be a great help preventing bacterial transmission through sexual contact.

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Prakash Bhatt

Prakash Raj Bhatt Maharajgunj Medical Campus, Institute of Medicine Bachelor in Public Health

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