Adventures in Science

Germs

Germs are a common word that people use to describe tiny living things, too small to see, that can make us sick. These tiny living things are made up of two types: bacteria and viruses. A more scientific name for life forms that can make us sick is the word pathogen.
 
Did you get strep throat this winter? A lot of people did. But what caused so many people to get sick? Strep throat is caused by a tiny living thing that in great numbers can invade our bodies. When they multiply and take over we get sick. Below is a set of four pictures of tiny bacteria or viruses–types of pathogens–that can make us sick. Can you figure out which of these germs cause strep throat?

Yep. It’s the Streptococcus bacteria. There are many types of Streptococcus bacteria. The most common one that causes strep throat is called Streptococcus pyrogenes.

Viruses are much smaller than bacteria. So small that scientists must use special microscopes to get pictures of them. Can you figure out which of the pictures above are of viruses? If you picked the adenovirus and the norovirus, you are correct. Those pictures are in black and white and are somewhat fuzzy because it is so difficult to get images of such small things.

Below is a fun video about germs with advice on how to avoid spreading them and avoid getting sick.

Fortunately, for most of us, our bodies have strong defenses that fight off invasions of germs. This video shows how that works.

Hand washing should also be added to the list of ways to help your immune system.

This video shows us how our immune system works too. It’s better because it was made by 11-year-old, Harrison Harris.

*If you live in a country with good medical care, you have probably never met anyone who has had diptheria. That is because there is a shot given to babies, with later booster shots, that prevents someone from getting the disease altogether.

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