Bacteria and Bacterial Infections
A Brief Overview and External Resources
and Bacterial Infections - Types of Bacteria
It is important to understand what bacteria is and the different types of bacteria there are. Not all antibiotics works on all bacteria. I highly recommend anyone with lymphedema being under the care of an infectious disease doctor. They have much more extensive training in diagnosing and treating bacterial infections than you family doctor may have.
Definition: Small one-celled microorganisms. A distinguishing characteristic is the lack of internal cell membranes. Some are round (cocci), rod-shaped (Bacili), spiral (spirochetes), or comma-shaped (vibrios). The nature, severity, treatment and outcome of any bacterial infection based on the species.
This page is intended to give the reader a basic understanding of exactly what bacteria are and to act as an information portal for more extensive study.
I have also included specific infection pages relating to lymphedema from our Lymphedema People website. Also, listed below are links to the various related blogs we sponsor.
Basics about Bacteria
The small one-celled microorganisms of the class Schizomycetes. Some are round (cocci), rod-shaped (bacilli), spiral (spirochetes), or comma-shaped (vibrios). The nature, severity, and outcome of any infection caused by a bacterium depends on the species.
Five major groups of microorganisms are responsible for the majority of infections. They include protozoa and helminths, or worms—both of which are considered in Parasites and Parasitology—as well as bacteria and viruses. Bacteria and viruses often are discussed, along with fungi (the fifth major group), in the context of infection and infectious diseases. In the present context, however, we limit our inquiry to viruses and bacteria.
Bacteria are very small organisms, typically consisting of one cell. They are prokaryotes, a term referring to a type of cell that has no nucleus. In eukaryotic cells, such as those of plants and animals, the nucleus controls the cell's functions and contains its genes. Genes carry deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), which determines the characteristics that are passed on from one generation to the next. The genetic material of bacteria is contained instead within a single, circular chain of DNA.
Members of kingdom Monera, which also includes blue-green algae (see Taxonomy), bacteria generally are classified into three groups based on their shape: spherical (coccus), rodlike (bacillus), or spiralor corkscrew-shaped (spirochete). Some bacteria also have a shape like that of a comma and are known as vibrio. Spirochetes, which are linked to such diseases as syphilis, sometimes are considered a separate type of creature; hence, Monera occasionally is defined as consisting of blue-green algae, bacteria, and spirochetes.
The cytoplasm (material in the cell interior) of all bacteria is enclosed within a cell membrane that itself is surrounded by a rigid cell wall. Bacteria produce a thick, jellylike material on the surface of the cell wall, and when that material forms a distinct outer layer, it is known as a capsule. Many rod, spiral, and comma-shaped bacteria have whiplike limbs, known as flagella, attached to the outside of their cells. They use these flagella for movement by waving them back and forth. Other bacteria move simply by wiggling the whole cell back and forth, whereas still others are unable to move at all.
Bacteria most commonly reproduce by fission, the process by which a single cell divides to produce two new cells. The process of fission may take anywhere from 15 minutes to 16 hours, depending on the type of bacterium. Several factors influence the rate at which bacterial growth occurs, the most important being moisture, temperature, and pH, or the relative acidity or alkalinity of the substance in which they are placed.
Bacterial preferences in all of these areas vary: for example, there are bacteria that live in hydrothermal vents, or cracks in the ocean floor, where the temperature is about 660°F (350°C), and some species survive at a pH more severe than that of battery acid. Most bacteria, however, favor temperatures close to that of the human body—98.6°F (37°C)—and pH levels only slightly more or less acidic than water. Since they are composed primarily of water, they thrive in a moist environment.
Not all bacteria are harmful; in fact, some even are involved in the production of foods consumed by humans. For example, bacteria that cause milk to become sour are used in making cottage cheese, buttermilk, and yogurt. Vinegar and sauerkraut also are produced by the action of bacteria on ethyl alcohol and cabbage, respectively. Other bacteria, most notably Escherichia coli (E. coli) in the human intestines, make it possible for animals to digest foods and even form vitamins in the course of their work. (See Digestion for more on these subjects.) Others function as decomposers (see Food Webs), aiding in the chemical breakdown of organic materials, while still others help keep the world a cleaner place by consuming waste materials, such as feces.
Despite its helpful role in the body, certain strains of E. coli are dangerous pathogens that can cause diarrhea, bloody stools, and severe abdominal cramping and pain. The affliction is rarely fatal, though in late 1992 and 1993 four people died during the course of an E. coli outbreak in Washington, Idaho, California, and Nevada. More often the outcome is severe illness that may bring on other conditions; for example, two teenagers among a group of 11 who became sick while attending a Texas cheerleading camp had to receive emergency appendectomies. The pathogen is usually transmitted through under-cooked foods, and sometimes through other means; for example, a small outbreak in the Atlanta area in the late 1990s occurred in a recreational water park.
Many bacteria attack the skin, eyes, ears, and various systems in the body, including the nervous, cardiovascular (heart, lung), respiratory, digestive, and genitourinary (i.e., reproductive and urinary) systems. The skin is the body's first line of defense against infection by bacteria and other microorganisms, although it supports enormous numbers of bacteria itself. Bacteria play a major role in a skin condition that is the bane of many a young man's (and, less frequently, a young woman's) existence: acne. Pimples or “zits,” known scientifically as Acne vulgaris, constitute one of about 50 varieties of acne, or skin inflammation, which are caused by a combination of heredity, hormones, and bacteria—particularly a species known as Propionibacterium acnes. When a hair follicle becomes plugged by sebum, a fatty substance secreted by the sebaceous, or oil, glands, this forms what we know as a blackhead; a pimple, on the other hand, results when a bacterial infection, brought about by P. acnes, inflames the blackhead and turns it red. For this reason, antibiotics may sometimes cure acne or at least alleviate the worst symptoms.
Acne may seem like a life-and-death issue to a teenager, but it goes away eventually. On the other hand, toxic shock syndrome (TSS), caused by other bacteria at the surface of the skin—species of Staphylococcus (Staphylococci) and Streptococcus — can be extremely dangerous. The early stages of TSS are characterized by flulike symptoms, such as sudden fever, fatigue, diarrhea, and dizziness, but in a matter of a few hours or days the blood pressure drops dangerously, and a sunburn-like rash forms on the body. Circulatory problems arise as a result of low blood pressure, and some extremities, such as the fingers and toes, are deprived of blood as the body tries to shunt blood to vital organs. If the syndrome is severe enough, gangrene may develop in the fingers and toes.
In 1980, several women in the United States died from TSS, and several others were diagnosed with the condition. As researchers discovered, all of them had been menstruating and using high-absorbency tampons. It appears that such tampons provide an environment in which TSS-causing bacteria can grow, and this led to recommendations that women use lower-absorbency tampons if possible, and change them every two to four hours. Since these guidelines were instituted, the incidence of toxic shock has dropped significantly, to between 1 and 17 cases per 100,000 menstruating women.
Many bacteria produce toxins, poisonous substances that have effects in specific areas of the body. An example is Clostridium tetani, responsible for the disease known as tetanus, in which one's muscles become paralyzed. A related bacterium, C. botulinum, releases a toxin that causes the most severe form of food poisoning, botulism. Salmonella poisoning comes from another genus, Salmonella, which includes S. typhi, the cause of typhoid fever.
External Links for Bacteria
What are Bacteria?
What are Bacteria?
Bacteria: Life History and Ecology
Bacteria - by Rachel, Age 13 of Ohio
Medline Plus - Resource Directory
Health Insite - Resource Directory
Bacterial Infections - List of Articles
List of Bacterial Infections
Viruses and Bacteria
Virus or Bacteria?
External Links for Bacterial Infections
Lymphedema People sponsored
Updated: February 25, 2003
Author: Loretta Davis, MD, Associate Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, Section of Dermatology, Medical College of Georgia
Coauthor(s): Keith Benbenisty, MD, Fellow, Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Dermatology, Duke University Medical Center
Last Updated: December 9, 2003
Synonyms and related keywords: infection of the skin, skin infection, soft tissue infection, infection of the soft tissue
Author: Giuseppe Micali, MD, Head, Professor, Department of Dermatology, University of Catania School of Medicine, Italy
Coauthor(s): Vinod K Dhawan, MD, Chief, Program Director, Division of Infectious Diseases, Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, King/Drew Medical Center, Charles R Drew University; Professor, Department of Clinical Medicine, UCLA; Maria R Nasca, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Dermatology, University of Catania School of Medicine, Italy
Staph Infection / MRSA
Staph Infection / MRSA
Lymphedema People Sponsored
Signs and Symptoms:
Staphylococcus aureus bacteria are often simply called "staph" (pronounced "staff") bacteria. Staph bacteria can live harmlessly on many skin surfaces, especially around the nose, mouth, genitals, and rectum. But when the skin is punctured or broken for any reason, staph bacteria can enter the wound and cause an infection.
Impetigo is a skin infection that is sometimes caused by staph bacteria. It may affect skin anywhere on the body but commonly occurs in the area around the nose and mouth.
Impetigo usually affects preschool- and
children, especially in the summer months. Impetigo caused by staph
characterized by large blisters containing fluid that is first clear,
cloudy. The blisters may burst, ooze fluid, and
honey-colored crust. Impetigo may itch, and it can be spread
Folliculitis and boils (furuncles)
Folliculitis is an infection of hair follicles, tiny pockets under the skin where hair shafts (strands) grow. In folliculitis, tiny white-headed pimples appear at the base of hair shafts, sometimes with a small red area around each pimple. Folliculitis can happen especially in children who have fine hair that they wear pulled back tightly in barrettes or braids.
Folliculitis can lead to a boil (furuncle). In a boil, the staph infection spreads deeper and wider, often affecting the skin's sebaceous glands (oil-producing glands) or subcutaneous tissue (deeper tissue under the skin). First, the area of skin either begins to itch or becomes mildly painful. Next, the skin turns red and begins to swell over the infected area. Finally, the skin above the infection becomes very tender, and a whitish "head" may appear. The head may break, and the boil may begin to drain pus, blood, or an amber-colored liquid. Boils can occur anywhere on the skin, especially under the arms or the groin or buttocks in children.
Scalded skin syndrome
Scalded skin syndrome (SSS) most often affects newborns and children under age 5. The illness usually starts with a localized staph skin infection, but the staph bacteria manufacture a toxin (poison) that affects skin all over the body. The child has a fever, rash, and sometimes blisters. The rash begins around the mouth, then spreads to the trunk, arms, and legs. As blisters burst and the rash passes, the top layer of skin is dislodged and the skin surface becomes red and raw, like a burn.
What is a Staph Infection?
Columbia University - General Health
Medline Plus - Resource Directory
Group A Streptococcal Infections
National Institutes of Health
Group B Strep Infection
Last Updated: October 14, 2003
Synonyms and related keywords: Pseudomonas aeruginosa folliculitis, whirlpool folliculitis, hot tub folliculitis, gram-negative folliculitis
Author: Charles B Toner, MD, Head, Department of Dermatology, Naval Hospital, Guam
Coauthor(s): Stephen Krivda, MD, Director of Dermatopathology, Assistant Professor, Department of Dermatology, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences
Cat Scratch Disease
Last Updated: June 13, 2002
Synonyms and related keywords: catscratch fever, sub acute regional lymphadenitis, bartonellosis, Bartonella henselae, B henselae, CSD, catscratch antigen, CSA
Author: Kerrie J Spoonemore, MD, PharmD, Resident Physician, Department of Dermatology, University of Oklahoma
Coauthor(s): Gregory J Raugi, MD, PhD, Chief, Veterans Administration Medical Center of Seattle; Program Director, Associate Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Dermatology, University of Washington at Seattle
Cat Scratch Fever (Cat Scratch Disease - Bartonella henselae Infection)
Last Updated: March 18, 2002
Synonyms and related keywords: impetigo contagiosa, Fox impetigo, impetigo bullosa, impetigo contagiosa bullosa, impetigo neonatorum
Author: Anne E Burdick, MD, MPH, Department of Dermatology, Associate Professor, University of Miami School of Medicine; Medical Director, Dermatology Clinic, Jackson Memorial Hospital
Coauthor(s): Kapil Saigal, BS, University of Miami School of Medicine
Gram-negative and Gram-positive Bacteria
Gram-negative and Gram-positive Bacteria
Can’t Live With ‘Em, Can’t Live Without ‘Em
By Kathy Dix
Types of Antibiotics - Gram Negative versus Positive Stain Bacteria
Article: Gram Negative Bacteria
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Gram Negative / Enteric Bacteria
Common Bacterial Skin Infections
DANIEL L. STULBERG, M.D., MARC A. PENROD, M.D., and RICHARD A. BLATNY, M.D.
Utah Valley Family Practice Residency, Provo, Utah
American Family Physician
Lymphedema People Additional Bacterial Infection Pages
Infections Associated with Lymphedema
Carbuncles, Furuncles, Boils
Related Lymphedema People Related Medical Blogs and Pages:
Antibiotic Therapy, Types of Antibiotics
Join us as we work for lymphedema patients everywehere:
Advocates for Lymphedema
Dedicated to be an advocacy group for lymphedema patients. Working towards education, legal reform, changing insurance practices, promoting research, reaching for a cure.
Lymphedema People / Advocates for Lymphedema
For information about Lymphedema
For Information about Lymphedema Complications
For Lymphedema Personal Stories
For information about How to Treat a Lymphedema Wound
For information about Lymphedema Treatment
For information about Exercises for Lymphedema
For information on Infections Associated with Lymphedema
For information on Lymphedema in Children
Lymphedema People - Support Groups
The time has come for families, parents, caregivers to have a support group of their own. Support group for parents, families and caregivers of chilren with lymphedema. Sharing information on coping, diagnosis, treatment and prognosis. Sponsored by Lymphedema People.
No matter how you spell it, this is another very little understood and totally frustrating conditions out there. This will be a support group for those suffering with lipedema/lipodema. A place for information, sharing experiences, exploring treatment options and coping.
Come join, be a part of the family!
MEN WITH LYMPHEDEMA
you are a man with lymphedema; a
man with a loved one with lymphedema who you are trying to help and
come join us and discover what it is to be the master instead of the
Support group for parents, patients, children who suffer from all forms of lymphangiectasia. This condition is caused by dilation of the lymphatics. It can affect the intestinal tract, lungs and other critical body areas.
Disorders Support Group @ Yahoo Groups
While we have a number of support groups for lymphedema... there is nothing out there for other lymphatic disorders. Because we have one of the most comprehensive information sites on all lymphatic disorders, I thought perhaps, it is time that one be offered.
Information and support for rare and unusual disorders affecting the lymph system. Includes lymphangiomas, lymphatic malformations, telangiectasia, hennekam's syndrome, distichiasis, Figueroa
syndrome, ptosis syndrome, plus many more. Extensive database of information available through sister site Lymphedema People.
Lymphedema People New Wiki Pages
you seen our new “Wiki”
pages yet? Listed
below are just a
sample of the more than 140 pages now listed in our Wiki section. We
working on hundred more. Come
take a stroll!
are not for Lymphedema
People Online Support
and Pain Management
Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) and Complex Decongestive Therapy (CDT)
Associated with Lymphedema
to Treat a Lymphedema Wound
Infections Associated with
para-aortic lymph node dissection (EPLND)
Needle Biopsy - Fine Needle Aspiration
Lymphedema Gene VEGFC
Lymphedema Gene SOX18
Home page: Lymphedema People
Page Updated: Jan. 15, 2012