Difference Between Bacterial and Viral Infection

Difference Between Bacterial and Viral Infection
Published : Feb 04, 2024
Last Updated : Feb 06, 2024

Still, confused between bacterial and viral infection? If so, then don't worry because you have reached the right place. When you suffer from an infection, it is either due to a viral or bacterial infection.

However, you need to know which type of infection you have because the treatment for both conditions is different. Sometimes it becomes difficult to differentiate between these infections because the symptoms can be the same. 

Still, there is some crucial difference between the two infections that you will know in this blog. Before understanding the difference between both infections, you need to know about bacterial & viral infections. 

What is a bacterial infection?

Bacterial infection can be mild to severe because it can make you suffer from simple throat infection to dangerous diseases. You need to know that bacteria are capable of living in extreme environments also. 

When you have a bacterial infection, then you start suffering from disease and increased lymphocyte count. After you are detected with a bacterial infection, the doctor recommends broad-spectrum antibiotics to deal with the problem effectively. 

Always remember that bacterial infection can also be transmitted through respiratory droplets.  

Most of the bacteria present in your body are beneficial, while others cause infections like:

  • Cellulitis
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Tuberculosis
  • Streep's throat
  • Some types of food poisoning 
  • Whooping cough
  • Sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhea and syphilis

How is a bacterial infection transmitted?

Most bacterial infections are transmissible and can be easily transmitted from one person to another. 

Bacterial infection can be transmitted in several ways:

  • Close contact with a person who is already suffering from bacterial infection
  • Transmission from mother to baby at the time of pregnancy or birth
  • Contact with surfaces that are contaminated with the bacteria like faucet handles or doorknobs

What is a viral infection?

Viruses are obligate parasites that incline to duplicate inside the host. They are tiny in size, even smaller than bacteria. You must know that viral infection transmits from one person to another and can be mild to severe. 

While suffering from a viral infection, you usually do not suffer from fever. The development period of most varies differs from days to months. To treat severe viral infections, doctors often recommend antivirals

Some of the most common types of viral infections include:

  • Influenza
  • Measles
  • Common cold
  • Warts
  • Viral gastroenteritis
  • HIV
  • Zika virus
  • Chickenpox
  • Viral meningitis

How are viral infections transmitted?

Just like bacterial infections, most viral diseases are also transmittable. Here are some ways how this infection transmits:

  • Coming in contact with the body fluids of a person suffering from viral infection
  • Contact with contaminated surfaces
  • Close contact with the person who already has a viral infection

Major Difference between bacterial and viral infection

Both bacteria and viruses seem to be very small when viewed without a microscope, but they are huge in real. Be it bacterial or virus infection, both are caused by microbes. 

The significant difference between bacterial and viral infection is that bacteria is a single-celled organism with a cell wall. As a result, it starts reproducing on its own. 

Viruses do not have a proper cell wall and are obligate parasites that multiply only inside the host. Therefore, bacterial infections are caused by bacteria and viral infections by viruses. 

In bacterial infection, a patient starts suffering from fever, but this is not the case with the viral infection. The mucous color is mainly exact or white in viral infection, but the mucous is colored in a bacterial infection. 

The viral infection lasts for 3-11 days; on the other hand, the bacterial infection lasts for more than ten days. 

How to prevent bacterial & viral infections

Following some tips can help you in preventing the infections of bacteria and viruses.

It would help if you washed your hands properly after using the bathroom, before eating, and before & after handling food items. 

In case your hands are not clean, then avoid touching your face, mouth, or nose. 

You need to know that personal items like toothbrushes, eating utensils, and drinking glasses should not be shared. 

It would help if you got vaccinated on time to avoid viral & bacterial diseases. Infection can prevent some diseases:

  1. Whooping cough
  2. Measles
  3. Tetanus
  4. Influenza


  • If you are sick, then do not step out from your home because it will prevent infection transmission.
  • To prevent sexually transmitted diseases, you need to practice safe sexual activity. 
  • If you eat non-vegetarian food, then ensure that it is cooked at a proper temperature to avoid problems. 
  • Do not keep the leftover food items at room temperature. Just keep them in a refrigerator. 


Thus, bacteria and virus infections can be transmitted easily, but taking a few precautions can help you.