Since we’re now in the season of bacteria, viruses and other bugs, I’ve thought of touching a bit on the subject of bacterial infections, since there is still a lot of misconception on how these happen and are treated.
Bacteria are unicellular microorganisms or biological cells, which are present in the human body, animals, plants and practically everywhere in this world. They belong to the prokaryotic microorganisms group.
There is a larger number of bacteria than cells in the human body. The name bacteria evokes fear of dreadful diseases. Most of the bacteria are beneficial to humanity.
Only one per cent of the bacterial strains cause diseases or are pathogenic. The good bacteria, eg. Lactobacillus acidophilus helps in the digestion process.
Some bacteria provide immunity to the body from invading disease-producing microorganisms, which enters the body. There are two main groups:- Bacteria and Cyanobacteria.
The species Escherichia coli, Salmonella, Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, Clostridium, and Listeria, are listed in the Bacteria group. Cyanobacteria are a different type of bacteria, that is involved in photosynthesis and is also termed as blue-green algae.
The presence of oxygen in the atmosphere, from the evolution of the living organisms, is a testimony of the presence of Cyanobacteria since time immemorial.
Symptoms of bacterial infections.
A runny nose, cough, headache, fatigue, fever, body ache, length of the illness, abdominal discomfort, non-healing wounds, irritation within and around the abdominal region and eyes may be a few of the symptoms of bacterial infection.
Bacterial infections can be controlled by antibiotics like Azee 500 tablet which can act against several groups of bacteria.
A bacterial infection may be ascribed to the growth of a disease-causing one-celled microorganism in and around the body. Bacteria which lives only in the presence of oxygen are termed aerobic bacteria, and the bacteria which can live in the absence of oxygen are termed anaerobic bacteria.
Research has confirmed that there are seven important bacterial groups. They are identified by the shape and the cell wall types.
Four kinds of bacteria among the seven, are the most prominent in this class. They are classified as Gram-Negative Cocci, Gram-Positive Cocci, Gram-Negative Bacilli and Gram-Positive Bacilli.
The Cocci are spherical shaped, and Bacilli are rod-shaped. Thick celled walls of Cocci and Bacilli are named Gram Positive.
Thin celled walls are named Gram Negative. Both are named as per the Gram staining procedure. The other three types of bacteria are:-
- Spirochaetes –These are bacteria which have a corkscrew shape. They are further subdivided into Treponema which causes yaws and syphilis.
- The disease Leptospirosis is caused by Leptospira bacteria. Lyme disease is caused by Borrelia bacteria.
- Rickettsia-These bacteria can live and survive on other living cells. Typhus is a disease caused by this bacteria.
- Mycoplasma-These bacteria do not have cell walls and cause Pneumonia by infecting human beings.,
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Staphylococcus and Streptococcus species of bacteria usually represent gram-positive Cocci. They are mostly non-pathogenic, ie.they do not cause any disease.
There are some strains of bacteria which are pathogenic or cause diseases. Staphylococcus aureus causes Impetigo, Scalded skin syndrome, Toxic shock syndrome, and food poisoning.
Streptococcus pyogenes is the causative microbe for tonsillitis and severe throat diseases. This type of bacteria also causes other diseases.
Lactobacillus is a gram-positive, rod-shaped, microaerophilic, non-spore forming, facultatively anaerobic bacteria. They are involved in the well being of the digestive system, by converting sugars to lactic acid.
Gram-Positive bacilli exemplified by Corynebacterium diphtheria causes the disease listeria monocytogenes and diphtheria.
Two life-threatening bacteria belong to this group. The Bacillus species is known to cause the dreaded disease Anthrax. Clostridium species, Clostridium tetanus, causes tetanus and the other Clostridium species, causes food poisoning, medically termed as botulism.
Gram-negative cocci are of mainly two types, Neisseria meningitidis causing meningitis and Neisseria gonorrhea-causing sexually transmitted gonorrhoea.
Gram-negative bacilli have a broader classification:- Enterobacteria group consisting of E Coli, Salmonella, Shigella, Proteus and Yersinia pestis. Comma-shaped Vibrio, Vibrio cholera-causing cholera.
Stomach ulcer-causing Helicobacter pylori which are commonly treated by physicians and gastroenterologists. The other diseases caused by gram-negative bacilli are Haemophilus influenza, causing pneumonia.
Bordetella pertussis is causing whooping cough. Brucella bacteria are causing brucellosis in animals. Twenty-five per cent of the dead bacterium in the faecal matter is Bacteroides.
Treatment of Bacterial Infections
Antibiotics are medicines to counteract the invading pathological bacteria. A doctor usually chooses the antibiotics, that best fight the infection.
Laboratory tests may be used to help determine the choice of antibiotic. The other factors taken into account before prescribing an antibiotic are medication cost, dosage schedule, antibiotic drug resistance and the general side effects which may be experienced by the patient.
.An antibiotic, may inhibit the bacterial cell wall growth and stop the multiplication of the disease-causing bacteria. They may be bacteriostatic(stops the growth of bacteria), or bactericidal (kills the bacteria).
Antibiotics are also prescribed to treat secondary infections, when the body is immune- compromised, due to an existing disease.
The main classes of antibiotics which are available in the Indian Pharmaceutical Market.
1.Penicillins eg.-Penicillin(Pentids-NPIL), Amoxycillin(Amoxil-Zydus Cadila).
2.Macrolides eg-Erythromycin(Anthrocon-Alembic, Clarithromycin(Claribid-Abbott), and Azithromycin(Azee 500 mg-Cipla).
3.Fluoroquinolones, eg.Ciprofloxacin(Ciplox-Cipla), Levofloxacin(Tavanic-Sanofi Aventis), Ofloxacin(Alproxen-Alkem).
4.Sulfonamides, e.g. Cotrimoxazole (Bactrim-Abbott).
5.Tetracycline eg Resteclin(Abbott,Doxycycline (Doxy-1-USV)
6.Aminoglycosides such as Gentamycin(Biogaracin-Biochem), Tobramycin(Tobacin-Aristo).
In the Azalide class of macrolides, Azee 500 (azithromycin 500 from Cipla ) is one of the most preferred antibiotics, prescribed by doctors. Azee 500 is usually prescribed 500 mg OD, which is an advantageous dosage pattern for patients, as there are lesser chances of missing a dosage.
As an alternative Azee 500mg OD followed by Azee 250 OD from the second to the fifth day is prescribed. Another advantage is its post-antibiotic effect, which remains for more than four days.
Azithromycin(Azee-500mg) may be prescribed for the following bacterial infections:-
1.Legionella Pneumonia, causative organism-Legionella.
2.Tonsillitis, causative organism-Streptococcus pyogenes.
3.Sinusitis, causative organism-Streptococcus pneumonia, M.catarrhalis, and H.influenzae.
4.Mycoplasma pneumonia, causative organism-Mollicutes.
5.Pharyngitis, causative organism –A-beta hemolytic streptococcus bacteria.
6.Skin and Skin Structure Infections, causative organism Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus.
7.Pneumonia, causative organism-Streptococcus pneumonia.
8.Pelvic Inflammatory diseases caused by Chlamydia , Neisseria gonorrhoea, and M.genitalium.
9.Uncomplicated gonococcal infections caused by Neisseria gonorrhoea.
10.Cervicitis, causative organism-Mycoplasma, and Chlamydia.
Identification of bacterial infections from other infections like viral, protozoal or fungal is very important for the correct treatment of patients. Diagnostic tests compounded with the doctor’s clinical eye, and aggressive treatment, results in the patient’s quick recovery from any disease.