The Types And Infections of Bacteria

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Bacteriology is that science which deals with the study of the micro-organisms called bacteria.

Cosmetologists must understand how the spread of disease can be prevented, and become familiar with the precautions which must be taken to protect their own as well as their patron’s health. They must understand the relation of bacteria to the principles of school and salon cleanliness and sanitation. The State Board of Cosmetology and the Health Department require the application of sanitary measures while serving the public. Contagious diseases, skin infections and blood poisoning are caused either by the conveyance of infectious material from one individual to another, or by unsanitary implements (such as combs, brushes, hairpins, clippies, rollers, etc.) which have been used first on an infected person and then on another person. Other sources of contagion are dirty hands and fingernails.

Bacteria are minute, one-celled vegetable microorganisms found nearly everywhere, being especially numerous in dust, dirt, refuse and diseased tissues. Bacteria are also known as germs (jermz) or microbes.

Bacteria exist everywhere, particularly on the skin of the body, in water, air, decayed matter, in the secretion of body openings, on the clothing and beneath the nails.

Ordinarily, bacteria are not visible except with the aid of a microscope. Fifteen hundred rod-shaped bacteria will barely reach across a pinhead.

Types of Bacteria

There are hundreds of different kinds of bacteria. However, bacteria are classified into two types, depending on their beneficial (harmless) or harmful (disease producing) qualities.

Non-pathogenic organisms (beneficial or harmless type) constitute the majority of all bacteria. They perform many useful functions such as decomposing refuse and improving the fertility of the soil. To this group belong the saprophytes which live on dead matter and do not produce disease.

Pathogenic organisms (microbes or germs) (harmful type), although in the minority, produce considerable damage by invading plant or animal tissues. Pathogenic bacteria are harmful because they produce disease. To this group belong the parasites which require living matter for their growth.

It is because of pathogenic bacteria that the practice of cleanliness and sanitation is necessary in a beauty school or salon.

Classification of Pathogenic Bacteria

Bacteria show distinct forms or shapes which aid in their identification. However, we are concerned with pathogenic bacteria, classified as follows:

1. Cocci(singular, coccus) are round-shaped organisms which appear singly or in groups as follows:

a.) Staphylococci (singular, staphylococcus) are pus-forming organisms which grow in bunches or clusters. They are present in abscesses, pustules and boils.

b.) Streptococci (singular, streptococcus) are pus-forming organisms which grow in chains. They are found in blood poisoning.

c.) Diplococci (singular, diplococcus) grow in pairs. They cause pneumonia.

2. Bacilli (singular, bacillus) are rod-shaped organisms which present either a short, thin or thick structure. They are the most common and produce such diseases as tetanus (lockjaw), influenza, typhoid, tuberculosis and diphtheria. Many bacilli are spore producers.

3.) Spirilla (singular, spirillum) are curved or corkscrew-shaped organisms. They are further subdivided into several groups, of chief importance being the Treponema pallida, the causative agent in syphilis.

Bacterial Growth and Reproduction

Bacteria consist of an outer cell wall and internal protoplasm. They manufacture their own food from the surrounding environment, give off waste products and can grow and reproduce.

Bacteria may exhibit two distinct phases in their life cycle: the active or vegetative stage and the inactive or spore-forming stage.

Active or Vegetative Bacteria

During the active stage, bacteria grow and reproduce. These microorganisms multiply best in warm, dark, damp and dirty places where sufficient food is present.

When conditions are favorable, bacteria reproduce very fast. As food is absorbed, the bacterial cell grows in size. When the limit of growth is reached, the bacterial cell divides crosswise into halves, thereby forming two daughter cells. From one bacterium, as many as sixteen million germs may develop in half a day.

When favorable conditions cease to exist, bacteria either die or become inactive.

Inactive or Spore-forming Bacteria

Certain bacteria (such as the anthrax and tetanus bacilli), during their inactive stage and in order to withstand periods of famine, dryness and unsuitable temperature, form spherical spores having tough outer coverings. In this stage, spores can be blown about in the dust and are not harmed by disinfectants, heat or cold.

When favorable conditions are restored, the spores change into the active or vegetative form and then start to grow and reproduce.

Movement of Bacteria

The ability to move about is limited to the bacilli and spirilla, for the Cocci rarely show active motility. Wherever any motility of bacteria is shown, we find hairlike projections, known as flagella or cilia, extending from the sides, or sides and end, of certain bacilli. A whiplike motion of these hairs propels the bacteria about in liquid.

Bacterial Infections

Pathogenic bacteria become a menace to health when they invade the body. An infection occurs if the body is unable to cope with the bacteria and their harmful toxins. A local infection is indicated by a boil or a pimple containing pus. A general infection results when the blood stream carries the bacteria and their toxins to all parts of the body, as in blood poisoning or syphilis.

The presence of pus is a sign of infection. Staphylococci are the most common pus-forming bacteria. Found in pus are bacteria, waste matter, decayed tissue, body cells and blood cells, both living and dead.

An infectious disease becomes contagious or communicable when it spreads from one person to another by contact. Some of the more common contagious diseases which would prevent a cosmetologist from working are tuberculosis, common cold, ringworm, scabies, head lice and virus infections.

The chief sources of contagion are: unclean hands, unclean implements, open sores and pus, mouth and nose discharges, and the common use of drinking cups and towels. Uncovered coughing or sneezing and spitting in public also spread germs.

Through personal hygiene and public sanitation, infections can be prevented and controlled.

There can be no infection without the presence of pathogenic bacteria.

Pathogenic bacteria may enter the body by way of:

1. A break in the skin, such as a cut, pimple or scratch.
2. Breathing or by swallowing. (Air, water, or food)
3. The nose (air).
4. The eyes or ears (Dirt).

The body fights infection by means of its defensive forces:

1. The unbroken skin which is the body’s first line of defense
2. Body secretions, such as perspiration and digestive juices.
3. White blood cells, within the blood, to destroy bacteria.
4. Antitoxins to counteract the toxins produced by bacteria.

Other Infectious Agents

Filterable viruses – are living organisms so small that they will pass through the pores of a porcelain filter. They cause the common cold, and other respiratory and gastro-intestinal infections.

Parasites are plants or animals which live upon another living organism without giving anything in return.

Plant parasites or fungi such as molds, mildews and yeasts, can produce such as contagious diseases as ringworm and favus.

Animal parasites, such as certain insects, are responsible for such contagious diseases as scabies due to the itch mite, and prediculosis caused by lice.

Contagious diseases caused by parasites should never be treated in a beauty school or salon. Patrons should be referred to their physicians.

Immunity is the ability of the body to resist invasion and destroy bacteria once they have gained entrance. Immunity against disease is a natural resistance to disease, being partly inherited and partly developed by hygienic living. Acquired immunity being artificial is secured after the body has by itself overcome certain diseases, or when it has received certain kinds of animal injections.

Human diseased carrier is a person immune to a disease and yet harbors germs which can infect other people. Typhoid fever and diphtheria may be transmitted in this manner.

The destruction of bacteria may be accomplished by disinfectants, and intense heat such as boiling, steaming, baking or burning, and ultra-violet rays.

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