What are the Harmful effects of Microorganisms?
Harmful effects of Microorganisms
Microorganisms are responsible for spoiling food. They spoil eatables, and sometimes large-scale losses occur when they attack granaries. They flourish in humid conditions.
A number of microorganisms are pathogens and cause various diseases in plants and animals. In human beings bacteria cause diseases like cholera, typhoid, pneumonia, whooping cough, tetanus, tuberculosis, anthrax, gonorrhea, syphilis, food poisoning, etc.
In plants, bacteria and fungi can cause blights, rust, smut, canker, rots, mildews, etc. There are a number of antibiotics available that can kill bacteria that cause these diseases, only timely action is important.
Viruses are very harmful pathogens and cause a number of diseases in animals and plants. Viruses active themselves only inside the living cells of hosts. They have very few biochemical processes of their own. Therefore, while it is easy to kill bacteria with the help of antibiotics and other medicines, it is very difficult to kill viruses.
The body’s immune system has to fight them on its own. Some of the common diseases caused by them in human beings are the common cold, dengue, influenza, HIV, Hepatitis B, polio, measles, rabies, etc. In plants, they cause mosaics, yellowing of leaves, curly tips, etc.
Since microorganisms are not visible to the naked eye, it looks quite some time to prove that they cause many diseases. The contribution of Robert Koch in identifying bacteria causing tuberculosis and anthrax, and Ronald Ross, who discovered plasmodium as the cause of malaria and its carrier female anopheles mosquito, are worth mentioning here.
Diseases caused by these pathogens are communicable. It means they can be transmitted easily from one person to another through the air, water, soil, direct/indirect contact, or through a carrier (housefly spreads bacteria of cholera; female anopheles mosquito carries plasmodium, a protozoan that causes malaria, in its saliva; Aedes mosquito carries the virus that causes dengue).
Steps to prevent diseases caused due to Microorganisms are
- Immunization or vaccination
- Keeping your hands clean
- Avoiding contact with infected persons
- Drinking clean water
- Protecting yourself from a mosquito bite
Immunization or Vaccination
We can prevent children/ourselves from the attack of several pathogens by timely getting immunized with the help of vaccines. BCG vaccine prevents us from tuberculosis. Other vaccines for diseases like typhoid, tetanus, polio, influenza, whooping cough, diphtheria, cholera, hepatitis A and B, measles, diarrhea caused by rotavirus, etc. are available and help us get immunized from these diseases.
Keeping your hands clean
Wash your hands with soap and clean water frequently. Personal hygiene helps to keep away pathogens.
Avoiding contact with infected persons
Patients suffering from air-borne diseases should be kept in isolation. They should use a handkerchief while sneezing or coughing and stay away from crowds and dirty places.
Drinking clean water
It is better to boil water and store it in clean utensils. Also, you should eat well-cooked food.
Protecting yourself from a mosquito bite
Use mosquito repellants and nets. Don’t allow mosquitoes to breed in your vicinity.
Preservation of Food
Microorganisms spoil our food. Eating spoilt food leads to food poisoning. So, we have to protect our food from microbial attacks. There are a number of ways to do this. Some of them are as follows:
- Boiling/heating food kills bacteria. Pasteurization (heating to 70 degrees Celsius for about 15-30 seconds and then suddenly cooling) prevents milk from getting spoilt early.
- Making pickles jellies, jams, squashes, etc, are also ways to preserve food. Salt and sugar increase the concentration of the medium and this causes plasmolysis of the cells of the microbes. Oil and vinegar also don’t allow bacteria to grow.
- Drying the food in sun, rubbing with salt, and smoking also helps in the preservation of food.
- Adding food preservatives like sodium benzoate and sodium metabisulphite and storing food items in cold storage.
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