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Question: What is a microorganism and what diseases are caused by microorganisms? 

 

 

Answer: A microorganism, also called a microbe, is a tiny living thing, so small it can only normally be seen with a microscope.

There are millions of them everywhere. They can be found in the air, in soil, in water and in plants and animals.

Viruses and bacteria are microorganisms and there are hundreds of different kinds of these.

Some microorganisms are useful to us. Bacteria help the process of decay when plants and animals die. These can then pass back into the soil to provide nutrients for other plants and animals. Bacteria also help to make
cheese, yoghurts and many other foodstuffs. Yeast is a microorganism and helps bread to rise.

Some microorganisms are harmful. Bacteria can be a cause of such things as tooth decay, sore throats, meningitis and food poisoning. Viruses cause a number of illnesses, including 'flu, colds, chicken-pox, tetanus, meningitis and measles.

All of these can be caught in a variety of ways - infected food, coughs and sneezes, not washing hands, touching infected items and other ways.

Bacteria love warmth and moisture and rapidly reproduce themselves in these conditions. They are soon destroyed by strong heat, sunlight, some poisons and anti-biotics.

Viruses are not destroyed by anti-biotics. Often innoculation or vaccination is given to help prevent a virus attack or lessen its effects - i.e. 'flu, mumps, measles and whooping cough.

If you look at our site: http://www.zephyrus.co.uk and go from the 'Science' icon you can reach 'Biology' and then in the 'Facts' you may find some more to help you.

 

 

 

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