Bacteria, Viruses, and Protists

Bacteria Basics

What is a germ?

Most of us use the term “germ” to define those minute “creatures” that invade our bodies, giving us such problems as the flu, a cold, or the chicken pox. Overall, the term “germ” means any microorganism—especially those that cause disease, such as viruses, bacteria, and fungi. These are all different organisms that can cause various diseases— thus the word “germ” is a very general term.


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