What Are Germs

Updated: Oct 7, 2021

What if I told you that on every millimeter of every surface there are super tiny creatures called germs? You may have heard of them, but you might not know exactly what they are. Germs are so small that they cannot be seen without a microscope. Today I will be telling you how germs are important for life. Then I will tell you about viruses and bacteria, which are the two main types of germs.


Germs are very, very small! They can be as small as 40 nanometers (the human hair is 70,000 to 100,000 nanometers thick) to 10 micrometers (The human hair is 70 to 100 micrometers thick)! There are both bad and good germs. The bad germs are the ones that make you sick, such as COVID-19. The good germs help your body by digesting food and helping your immune system fight off bad germs. Think about it like this. Imagine your body is the earth and all of the humans living on you are the good and bad germs. The humans that harm ecosystems are the bad germs. All of the humans that help ecosystems are like the good germs. Too many bad germs in our bodies can make us sick or even kill us. Some good ways to protect ourselves are to eat healthy food, wash our hands, clean our living spaces, and brush our teeth. That way we can keep as many bad germs away from us as possible


Now that you have an idea of how important germs are to us, let us talk about one kind of germ, viruses. COVID-19, responsible for our current pandemic, is a virus. Viruses cannot live without other living things. They reproduce by going into a healthy living cell and forcing it to make more viruses of the same kind. Then it destroys the cell, but humans and animals are not the only possible hosts for a virus. Viruses can also infect bacteria and plants. Not all viruses are bad. Some experiments show that they can use a virus to cure cancer by having it only attack cancer infected cells! Something scientists have discovered about viruses are bacteriophages. Bacteriophages are viruses that only attack specific bacteria. This is useful to us because bacteria have started to become resistant to antibiotics. Viruses have a bad reputation of making us sick, but don’t let that fool you. Scientists are discovering more and more good things about these small beings every day and someday we will be able to use them to make our world an even better place.


Now that we have learned about viruses, we can talk about another kind of germ, bacteria. Bacteria are very different from viruses. They are bigger and do not need a living host to reproduce Instead, it creates an almost exact clone of itself every couple of minutes, and once duplicated both bacteria duplicate after another few minutes! Where first you have one bacteria, you then have two, then four, then eight, then sixteen. This keeps going until you have an army of bacteria that could easily make you sick! Just like viruses, there are good bacteria too!


In summary, germs are tiny creatures. Some make you sick and some help digest your food. There are two main types of germs, viruses and bacteria. Viruses reproduce by forcing cells to make almost exact clones of the same viruses. Bacteria are bigger and clone themselves every few minutes. Germs are interesting things that scientists are researching in order to find how to make life better. cures to diseases, how to make our own super small robots, and maybe even how to make genetic alterations to prevent or cure disease.. The world of germs will be the next frontier.


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