Difference Between Virus and Bacteria (With Table)

There are diverse types of living organisms residing on the planet Earth. Some may be visible to the naked human eye while others can only be seen under a microscope.

While we human beings always try to live in harmony with the world, certain microbes can cause the human race to suffer from diseases and illnesses. This has prompted scientists and biologists to study those microbes in more detail. Their studies have made humans more resistant to diseases and were able to increase the life span of humans.

Among all the microbes that have known to cause immense damage to humans, there are two types: Virus and bacteria.

Virus vs Bacteria

The main difference between the virus and the bacteria is that the virus needs a host to survive while the bacteria do not need a host body to survive.

A virus first needs to have access to the host’s body. This may be possible through the respiratory tract or open wounds. After the virus has got inside the host’s body, only then they can become the source of spreading the disease.

Bacteria, on the other hand, live freely in the environment and also inside us. They multiply quickly when they are given the right conditions to thrive. Some bacteria cause infections but most of them do not pose any threat. There are multiple differences between the virus and the bacteria which will be shown in the comparison table below.


Comparison Table Between Virus and Bacteria (in Tabular Form)

Parameter of Comparison



Need for Host

The virus cannot survive without a host.

Bacteria can survive without a host.


Viruses are smaller than bacteria.

Bacteria are larger than viruses.

Chance of disease

All types of viruses can cause disease.

Not all types of bacteria can cause disease.

Severity of treatment

Viruses are harder to treat than bacteria.

Bacterial infections are easier to treat


AIDS, Common colds.

Strep throat, Tuberculosis, E. coli.


What is Virus?

Viruses are small microscopic organisms that are only able to survive and thrive using living things as a host body. A virus is made up of genetic material either RNA or DNA surrounded by a coat of protein.

Sometimes, this coat is further surrounded by a spiky coat called an envelope. Viruses are considered to be the smallest out of all microbes.

Viruses have been the cause of diseases like Ebola which was spread in West Africa in 2014 and also swine flu disease in 2009.

A virus works by attaching itself to a healthy cell and then uses those cells to replicate itself and spread the disease. When a virus enters your body, you may not get aware of it at first because the virus does not make you sick all of a sudden.

A virus usually takes a few days or weeks as the incubation period before the symptoms start to show in the body. During this time, the virus is preparing to attack with full force.

A viral infection cannot be treated with antibiotics. You need anti-viral medicines to treat them. Some viruses can also be treated with vaccines. But generally, you need to have a strong immune system as well for the treatment to work and fight the virus off.

What is Bacteria?

Bacteria are one-celled organisms that can survive in different environments. They may be present in the ocean, in soil and also inside humans.

Not all bacteria are bad. There are some good bacteria too. For example, we need bacteria to turn milk into yogurt and we also need some healthy bacteria to help digest the food in our stomach.

Since bacteria are single-celled, they are termed as prokaryotes. They have a simple structure that lacks a nucleus and the DNA floats freely like a thread or in circular pieces.

There are four basic shapes of bacteria: circular shaped or cocci, cylindrical-shaped, capsule-based or bacilli and spiral-shaped. Sometimes, their names reflect their shapes. For example, the milk curding bacteria is called Lactobacillus acidophilus.

Bacteria multiply by a process called binary fission. In this process, the bacterium creates a copy of its self and grows larger. The bacterial cell then splits and there are two identical cells formed.

Bacterial infections can be treated with antibiotics. But new studies have suggested that bacteria are developing resistance against these medicines. It is advised to let our immune systems fight these infections first on their own before taking some medicines for treatment.



The medical field has sure come a long way in developing vaccines and treatments. There was once a time when the chance of survival for kids used below.

Common colds, influenza and serious diseases like tuberculosis, AIDS used to cost the lives of thousands of human beings every year. But doctors and scientists studied their structures and develop medicines to fight them off.

Scientists and biologists are still trying to find a cure for HIV AIDS and are getting close day by day. The rest of the humans can try to develop a healthy routine which includes exercise and fruits and vegetables in their diet.

Another important factor is to maintain good hygiene and keeping yourself clean. Also, we need to regularly disinfect our houses so that viruses and bacteria won’t be able to thrive in our surrounding environments.



  1. https://www.livescience.com/53272-what-is-a-virus.html
  2. https://science.howstuffworks.com/life/cellular-microscopic/virus-human.htm