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The Difference Between Bacterial and Viral Infections and How to Avoid Them

While bacterial infections and viral infections are extremely common, both come with their own particular set of mild and severe risks. To reduce your facility's risk of exposure, it's important to first understand the difference between a virus and bacteria. Use this guide from ServiceMaster Clean to learn what viral and bacterial infections are, what risks they pose, and how you can limit your exposure to them.

Virus vs. Bacteria

While viral infections and bacterial infections are both microbes, each causes diseases in different ways. Find out how to identify each to help you properly control them in your facility.

Bacterial Infections

Bacterial infections are single-celled microorganisms that can survive on their own. Some bacteria are harmless, while other types can cause illness. Luckily, many of the more serious bacterial infections a person can get can be treated with antibiotics. Bacterial infections are typically derived from the following causes:

  • Direct contact with infected individuals

  • Indirect contact by touching surfaces or breathing air in a space where bacterial infections are existing

  • Tainted food or beverages that lead to the bacterial infection E. coli

  • Transmission through sexual contact that can lead to bacterial infections like chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis.

If you have a bacterial infection, it typically stays in one part of your body, like the ears or throat, until treatment is complete. Some of the most common bacterial infections include:

  • Strep throat

  • Urinary tract infections

  • Tuberculosis

Viral Infections

Viral infections are smaller than bacteria, and require a living host to remain active. Like bacterial infections, some types of viral infections are harmless, while other strands can do serious damage. Viral infections are typically derived from the following causes:

  • Direct or indirect contact with someone who currently has a viral infection

  • Direct or indirect contact with bloodborne or airborne pathogens

  • Contact with surfaces that contain active viral cells

These infections are systemic, meaning they spread throughout the body. All types of viral infections are contagious. Some common viral infections include:

  • The common cold

  • Chickenpox

  • Shingles

  • AIDS

How to Reduce Your Exposure to Viral and Bacterial Infections

Infection control in healthcare facilities is crucial to maintaining a healthy space for your employees and staff. In order to avoid exposure to both types of infections, follow these tips:

  • Always wear personal protective equipment (PPE) while providing care or cleaning a space where infection may be present.

  • Wash your hands before, during, and after caring for each patient.

  • Thoroughly clean, disinfect, and sterilize high-traffic areas and any spaces that may have been exposed to infections

At ServiceMaster Clean, we know how dangerous bacteria and viruses can be if left unchecked. That's why our healthcare janitorial services were built around infection control and prevention, risk reduction, and environment improvement. Using the best practices and procedures set in place by OSHA and other leading industry organizations, our expert staff can deliver a deep clean in your facility.

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