The Germs Around Us, and How to Deal with Them

Jan 8, 2019 | Uncategorized

Germs are unavoidable. They are invisible, and no matter how many precautions you take, you might still get infected, and the worst part about this is that it spreads easily infecting people around you too.

So what can you do to make sure that you’re safe from them? Well, the first thing to know is how long they can live outside the body. Inside a human host, germs reproduce so their lifespan is essentially irrelevant, but outside the body, there is only a fixed time they can survive.

The amount of time any germ can live outside the body depends on the type of germ itself. Let’s take a look at the two most harmful kinds of germs: viruses and bacteria.

How long can a virus live outside the body?

Viruses are technically not alive outside a host, since they are incomplete organisms. However, they do remain “active”, in the sense that they can infect hosts. They are extremely resilient, especially in hard, non-porous surfaces. The most resilient kind of virus, smallpox, has been eradicated, but can stay active for years under room temperature.

Other kinds of well-known viruses, such as Hepatitis B and C will last from half a day to a week at the most. HIV, another well known virus, has an extremely short lifespan outside a host, lasting only a few hours.

How long can bacteria live outside the body?

Unlike viruses, bacteria are actual living organisms. They require some form of sustenance, hence they prefer porous surfaces, like contaminated food and mouldy surfaces. Usually bacteria can live only an hour or two without a way to sustain themselves.

However, there are extremophiles among bacteria, which are the kinds of bacteria that thrive in extreme conditions. Extreme conditions refer to high temperatures or pH levels. These kinds of bacteria are resilient, and can survive for weeks at a time by shutting off all but the most basic survival functions.

What can be done about the germs around us?

Before becoming too paranoid about germs it is important to remember that bacteria is literally everywhere around us and even inside our bodies, and only a very small percentage of bacteria is actually harmful.

Some important factors to consider to prevent oneself from getting infected is to always wash your hands before you eat or touch your face. You should also wash your hands after you cough, sneeze, use the restroom, or take out the trash.

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