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  • Parasites - All About Microbes - Microbe Magic
    hair or nails and make a scaly patch wherever they grow The patch can sometimes look like a circle like you see on people who have ringworm This isn t a worm at all it is a fungus that grows in a circle It can be itchy and uncomfortable and looks pretty ugly The same dermatophyte parasites actually a fungus called trichophyton causes athletes foot This fungus can live on skin and socks and floors so it spreads very easily It needs a warm and moist environment so remember to dry very well between your toes before you put on your socks Athlete s foot can cause your foot to be very itchy and it looks very ugly because your skin will crack and sometimes even bleed which can be painful Humans aren t the only ones to suffer from parasites Lichens are a partnership between the parasites fungi and algae or bacteria They live on rocks stones walls and the outside of houses They dig deeper and deeper and can make large holes in the stone or wall Sometimes when they are growing they can look and smell pretty ugly too Another type of ugly parasite is mold a

    Original URL path: http://microbemagic.ucc.ie/about_microbes/more_info/parasites.html (2015-07-23)
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  • All About Microbes - Microbe Magic
    some can even learn to use oxygen when it is there or live without it when it is not Most can hibernate for many years without any ill effects see Article 1 below for news of a bacterium that woke up and grew after being asleep for 8 million years For most bacteria however the temperature and conditions of the average healthy human body is their idea of paradise Bacteria are like all living organisms they need to eat for energy and growth But what do bacteria eat Well many bacteria eat starches and sugars which can be found on more or less all organic matter For other bacteria their diet is not very different from yours because they live in your mouth or digestive system and eat the food you eat Other bacteria eat or dead and decaying matter they are along with fungi the decomposers of organic matter and some even eat waste products or dangerous materials like oil Basically there are lots of different bacteria out there and between them they will eat just about anything Bacteria can make copies of themselves multiply wherever they find the right conditions This could be anywhere including on or inside you To make more copies of themselves most bacteria need food light moisture and nutrients the usual ingredients that allow them to survive However there are bacteria that can live anywhere so they can multiple anywhere even without light oxygen heat or any of the other things a lot of bacteria need Bacteria make copies of themselves using a process called binary fission This simply means they split in two and make two identical copies with the same structure genetic information and capabilities of the original cell Bacteria can multiply amazingly fast as fast as once every 20 minutes That means if you have 1 bacterium at 9am on Monday by noon you will have 512 by 4pm you will have over 2 million and by the time you go to bed 8pm you will have nearly 9 thousand million There are some checks in place that keep bacteria from taking you over altogether They can begin to run out of space food and other things they need to stay alive The good bacteria that live on and in your body reach a state of equilibrium a point where they are happy and you are happy because they are doing you good Article 1 New Scientist is one of the worlds leading popular science magazines Eight million year old bug is alive and growing An 8 million year old bacterium that was extracted from the oldest known ice on Earth is now growing in a laboratory claim researchers If confirmed this means ancient bacteria and viruses will come back to life as ice melts due to global warming This is nothing to worry about say experts because the process has been going on for billions of years and the bugs are unlikely to cause human disease Kay Bidle of Rutgers

    Original URL path: http://microbemagic.ucc.ie/about_microbes/more_info/bacteria_work.html (2015-07-23)
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  • All About Microbes - Microbe Magic
    the work to digest your food When there is too much gas for your intestines it escapes from your body as flatulence which is also called a fart If you eat certain types of foods like beans the bacteria make lots of gas The gas gets really smelly though is you eat a lot of processed foods or if you don t chew your food really well before you swallow it Outside of your body bacteria like lactic acid and streptococcus bacteria are also very useful in producing food Bacteria are used to make dairy products like cheese yoghurts sour cream and crème fraîche These bacteria are added to milk and they grow and ferment the milk The different types of bacteria that are added to make the different types of dairy products give each of them the taste you love If you ferment milk with bacteria the products change and get a little thicker This is because the main protein in milk casein cannot dissolve in the acid that is produced by the bacteria during the fermentation process It is lucky this happens it would be very difficult to drink the cheese in your sandwich Bacteria are used a lot in the making of yoghurt and cheese Yoghurt is just fermented milk made by adding good bacteria that you can find in the natural yoghurts in the supermarket and heating for several hours Cheese can be made from the milk of lots of animals but they all need bacteria to turn the milk into cheese The different types of bacteria give the different cheeses their own taste and texture if they are runny or hard for example Both yoghurt and cheese come in a huge amount of flavours you ll definitely fine one that suits you If you look closely at the labels of dairy products of yoghurts you will see that some of them have had probiotics added This means that good bacteria are added that if you eat enough of them they will be good for your health GI Jake is a probiotic he helps to keep you gut healthy and fight off invaders It isn t only dairy products that can be fermented you can ferment vegetables too using bacteria If you add lactic acid bacteria to thin strips of white cabbage they ferment the cabbage to give sauerkraut which just means sour cabbage These bacteria are also involved in the pickling of foods like onions gherkins the production of vinegar and the curing of meats Bacteria have lots of other uses other than making sure we don t get hungry Scientists have been using bacteria for a long time to produce medicines like vaccines Now they are going even further and they are making bacteria work for humans Scientists at the APC are using good bacteria to help to understand ho bacteria work in the gut and how they can be used to fight diseases of the gut Find out more at http apc ucc

    Original URL path: http://microbemagic.ucc.ie/about_microbes/more_info/good_bacteria.html (2015-07-23)
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  • All About Microbes - Microbe Magic
    don t really happen in developed countries any more A disease that still frightens people is the Bubonic plague sometimes known as the Black death The plague is caused by a bacterium called Yersinia pestis It killed millions of people maybe half of the people living in all of Europe at the time during the 14th century Plague bacteria was carried by the fleas that live on mice and rats Mice and rats lived everywhere people did at that time because there were no proper toilets and people did not understand about hygiene When the fleas bit humans they passed on the bacterium and people got sick About 6 out of every 10 people who got the plague died that s 60 The plague was also called the black death because when people died their faces turned black The Bubonic plague is still around in the world but it can be treated so it doesn t spread like it used to Another disease that people were very frightened of is leprosy Leprosy is caused by a rod shaped bacterium called Mycobacterium leprae but it is not very contagious it doesn t spread very easily This bacterium was discovered in 1873 in Norway and it was the first time a bacterium was seen to cause a disease in humans before then people thought that leprosy was caused by a curse Leprosy kills nerves so people loose their sense of touch and feeling they go numb Parts of the body get injured and people can go blind get terrible infections or deformities People with leprosy were forced to live separately away from their friends and families They often died without ever seeing them again Although leprosy still can t be cured it isn t such a problem now because there are antibiotics

    Original URL path: http://microbemagic.ucc.ie/about_microbes/more_info/ugly_bacteria.html (2015-07-23)
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  • All About Microbes - Microbe Magic
    their virus Other viruses are spread when people are lazy about personal hygiene and they don t wash their hands very often especially when they have been to the toilet Viruses also wait in areas you wouldn t expect them to like door handles or telephones so you should make sure to clean up after you and that you wash your hands regularly There aren t really many good viruses but a virus that did do some good was the vaccinia virus In 1796 Dr Edward Jenner found that milkmaids infected with cowpox a mild disease did not get smallpox a more deadly disease that only affects humans Smallpox killed about 35 of people who were infected and left many people who survived with terrible scars on their skin However people that were first infected with cowpox were immune to smallpox Dr Jenner invented the word vaccination and his discovery led to the science of immunology His work saved a massive amount of lives and led in 1980 to the World Healthy Organisation WHO to declare that the worldand its peoples were free from common smallpox It is the only infectious disease in history to have been completely removed from nature by mankind Sometimes being infected by a virus doesn t mean you ll get sick A lot of adults have a virus called CMV the cytomegalovirus a member of the herpes virus family You can get this at any time and it usually doesn t make you very sick sometimes it doesn t make you sick at all The virus lives in your body very happily but in its dormant state so it is inactive like its sleeping It can still be very dangerous as it can wake up and cause problems if you are seriously ill or if

    Original URL path: http://microbemagic.ucc.ie/about_microbes/more_info/good_viruses.html (2015-07-23)
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  • All About Microbes - Microbe Magic
    was first seen in the USA in Kansas and it spread to just about every place in the world Not everyone was infected only about 20 of the world s population Many places escaped because of quarantine where infected people were separated from healthy people and simply things like wearing facemasks Scientists now know much more about how viruses like the flu work but viruses really are very clever They can change themselves mutate very quickly so as quick as a new vaccine is made a new type of flu appears Viruses are different to bacteria which can be treated with antibiotics so there is no point taking antibiotics if you have a virus because they don t work There are lots of really ugly viruses out there many of which mean that the patient will die Viruses cause diseases like rabies which comes from the Latin word for rage or madness The rabies virus makes the brain swell up and causes so much damage that the infected animal or person can have foam coming from their mouths which makes them look like there are in a terrible rage There is a vaccine for rabies and people who are infected can be cured if they are treated quickly enough Another well known ugly virus that causes a lot of fear when its name is mentioned is the Ebola virus Ebola is also known as a hemorrhagic fever because of the symptoms it causes When the Ebola virus enters a host it can cause a high fever and internal or external bleeding haemorrhage Most people who catch the Ebola virus die because it spreads so quickly and easily Usually the virus gets into as many hosts as possible until there are no hosts left It then dies out but scientists don

    Original URL path: http://microbemagic.ucc.ie/about_microbes/more_info/bad_viruses.html (2015-07-23)
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  • All About Microbes - Microbe Magic
    absorbing the digested nutrients through their cell walls Fungi mainly absorb water and digest sugars and starches which they use to grow Fungi have adapted to many different environments and can be found in the air in the ground in water on plants on you All of these places provide the nutrients warmth and moisture fungi need Some fungi have adapted to grow in the desert where water is scarce in very cold parts of the world and in fresh or seawater where there is too much or the wrong kind of water Fungi have been around so long they have adapted to grow almost anywhere Fungi along with bacteria are one of the best decomposers of organic material Without them dead plants and animals would just hang around and the nutrients from the dead material would not return to the ground Other plants animals and micro organisms that rely on that food would also die and the delicate balance of the ecosystem would be lost Fungi are pretty simple structures really Mushrooms toadstools puff balls and the hard fungus you see growing like plates on the sides of trees all have the same structure They grow in bunches of filaments which look like sewing thread called hyphae although you cannot always see this The hyphae grow together to form mycelium which can form a fruiting body which is the part of the mushroom you can see Fungi can t move about they stay where they grow so how do they make more fungi Underneath the fruiting body of the mushroom the bit you can see that looks like an umbrella there are rows of gills In these gills tiny microscopic spores are produced Spores are the seeds for the next generation of fungi and they are carried to new

    Original URL path: http://microbemagic.ucc.ie/about_microbes/more_info/fungy_work.html (2015-07-23)
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  • All About Microbes - Microbe Magic
    spores gives the blue cheeses their colour and yummy taste Don t worry these fungal spores and molds are not toxic to humans so they won t make you sick There are lots of things to be thankful to fungi for besides being tasty they help to keep you and the food you eat healthy There are some fungi that are used in medicine They kill bacteria that invade your body and produce antibiotics like penicillin Antibiotics made from fungi are used to treat nasty diseases like tuberculosis TB and leprosy Not only that but they can be used to fight off insects pests and even other fungi that grow on plants Penicillin is the best known antibiotic and it is actually made from a mold Penicillin was discovered by the scientist Sir Alexander Fleming in 1928 He found that mold growing with a colony a group of Staphylococcus aureus bacteria was killing them It wasn t long before scientists found out what part of the mold was killing the bacteria and they began to make lots of it and people were able to recover from bacterial infections more easily The problem was that bacteria are really very clever The more antibiotics that people took the more the bacteria learnt to get around them so today there are a lot of bacteria that penicillin used to kill but it cannot kill any more The bacteria had adapted to the antibiotic they are drug resistant New antibiotics are very difficult to find the best way to make sure that all bacteria don t become drug resistant is to only take antibiotics when you really need them always finish the course of treatment that your doctor gives you even if you begin to feel better never take antibiotics from someone else or

    Original URL path: http://microbemagic.ucc.ie/about_microbes/more_info/fungy_good.html (2015-07-23)
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