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Bacteria are significantly different from viruses. First, they are much larger, and secondly, they represent a completely finished living organism, which can provide itself and reproduce itself in the presence of adequate food. Getting into the human body, some bacteria find conditions suitable for reproduction and nutrition - that's how a certain disease arises.
Until the twentieth century, the struggle of physicians with bacterial infections was no different from that in comparison with viral infections - all efforts were limited to helping the body survive and cope with the disease itself. Fortunately, the possibilities of modern medicine have increased noticeably. This happened due to the creation of several groups of drugs that allow to kill a microbe and not cause significant harm to a person. Of course, you heard about these medications - antibiotics (penicillin, tetracycline, gentamicin), sulfonamides (streptocid, etazol, biseptol) and something else.
After reading these lines, readers may get a very false idea about the fact that bacterial infections are much easier to treat, in comparison with viral infections. This, unfortunately, is not so. Not so, firstly, because the bacteria demonstrate the wonders of adaptability, and as scientists come up with more and more antibiotics, there are more and more new mutations of all known bacteria on which these antibiotics do not work (or do not act for long, Or does not work as much as we would like). Secondly, the same bacterial diseases - for example, pneumonia or meningitis - can be caused by hundreds of very diverse microbes and the doctor, sometimes it is very difficult to answer the question: "Who is to blame?" And, accordingly, correctly punish the guilty, appointing the right antibiotic.
The world of bacteria is surprisingly diverse, how diverse and large the number of diseases caused by them. Bacteria differ in size, structure, reproduction, and nutrition, and the conditions under which they can normally exist are very different. Some bacteria have a round shape - they are called cocci (staphylococcus, pneumococcus, streptococcus, meningococcus, gonococcus), others - elongated, they are called chopsticks (dysentery rod, pertussis, intestinal). Bacteria often do not have a flat surface, and all sorts of outgrowths, flagella, cilia.
Unlike viruses, bacteria are not characterized by strict selectivity in the defeat of certain organs of the human body. But each microbe has its own "preferences". Thus, the dysentery rod finds optimal conditions for itself in a certain part of the large intestine, the causative agent of whooping cough - in the cells of the epithelium of the respiratory tract, meningococcus (the causative agent of meningitis) - in the membranes of the brain. At the same time, staphylococcus is not particularly legible and can cause inflammation anywhere - on the skin, and in the bones, and in the lungs, and in the intestines, etc.
The bacterium, however disgusting and terrible it may seem, as a rule, does not bring any harm to the human body. But, being full-fledged living beings, bacteria form the products of their vital activity, which, in turn, are nothing more than the most real poisons. These toxic substances are called toxins. Each bacterium has its own toxins, and it is the toxins, or more precisely their specific effects on the human body, that determine the symptoms of a particular disease.
And the amount of toxins, and the danger of each individual toxin in each, their own bacteria, individual. And the toxins, and the bacterial cell itself, the body reacts approximately the way it does to viruses. Those. And the toxin itself, and the bacterial membrane, and its outgrowths (cilia, flagella) are specific antigens against which the corresponding antibodies are produced, eliminating harmful effects on the human body. And the bacteria themselves are also digested by special cells-devourers - phagocytes.
In the vast majority of cases, toxins are formed during the death of the bacterium - that is, they are in the bacterial cell itself and are released when it is destroyed. Bacteria in the human body are constantly destroyed - firstly, they themselves do not last long for long, and secondly, for that, and immunity, to fight bacteria and, thirdly, the bacteria are destroyed during treatment, all the same antibiotics, for example.
The toxins that form when bacteria die are called endotoxins ("endo-" means inside).
There is a very small number of bacteria whose life activity is accompanied by a constant release of toxins - i.e. Bacteria can release a toxin, but do not die at the same time!
Such toxins, formed during the life of bacteria, are called exotoxins (exo- from outside, outside).
Exotoxins are the most (!) Dangerous poisons from all discovered or invented by now.
Diseases, the causative agents of which produce exotoxin, are called exotoxic. What are these diseases? Diphtheria, tetanus, botulism, gas gangrene, anthrax - all these names you have heard repeatedly, ie. They (illnesses), albeit exotoxic, but, unfortunately, are not exotic (pun).
With some infections, bacteria are able to produce both exo- and endotoxins simultaneously. There are difficulties in the treatment. Examples of such diseases are pertussis, cholera, some variants of dysentery.
The danger of exotoxic infections is that antibiotics can not help - for the time that will pass before they are appointed (at first it is necessary to put a diagnosis), but while they kill the microbe, it may be too late. Antibiotics have done their work, there are no bacteria, but the toxins have remained. They will destroy the body if the medicine neutralizing toxins (antitoxic serum) is not injected in time.
Precisely because in the treatment of exotoxic infections antibiotic hopes are few, but with serum can not always be in time, most importantly - prevention!
It is not designed for all infections, but its (prevention) principles are quite understandable: if there is a toxin, it is necessary that the human body constantly (!) Circulates the antitoxin, i.e. antidote. That's why children are vaccinated (especially against diphtheria and tetanus) - inject very much weakened toxins, and, as a result, the body of the child forms quite decent immunity, as antitoxin is produced.