Bacteria

What are bacteria and viruses?

Bacteria and viruses are living organisms that can cause diseases, like the common cold or influenza. They also can make some diseases, like asthma, worse.

How can airborne bacteria affect health?

Bacteria and viruses can travel through the air, causing diseases and worsening allergies or asthma. They get into the air easily. When someone sneezes or coughs, tiny water or mucous droplets filled with viruses or bacteria scatter. Inhaling these bacteria can spread coughs, colds, influenza and tuberculosis and other infectious agents.

Furthermore, some individuals with allergies react to endotoxins, substances that come from the broken-down cells of dead bacteria. These microscopic particles have been associated with coughing, wheezing and worsening asthma.

Can my environment cause a bacteria outbreak?

Crowded conditions with poor air circulation can promote the spread or growth of bacteria. Some bacteria thrive and circulate through poorly maintained building ventilation systems; such is the case with with Legionnaires’ disease. Damp, humid air can increase the survival rate of bacteria in offices and homes.

Bacteria in the soil produce endotoxins, so they are virtually everywhere outdoors. They can come indoors with pets, pests, humidifiers, kitchen compost bins and outdoor air. Walking, dry mopping and other activities can cause them to become airborne once inside.

How to reduce the spread of bacteria

A key step to reduce the spread of disease through indoor air is to practice healthy behavior. Effective ventilation may also help keep bacteria, viruses and other pollutants out of the indoor air. Research shows that air flow and ventilation can affect how diseases spread indoors. The more stagnant the air, the more likely diseases are to spread.
Ventilation can also limit moisture. Damp indoor spaces foster the growth and transmission of bacteria. Controlling moisture indoors can limit the spread of these infectious diseases and also limit mold, dust mite and cockroach growth.

What are symptoms of a bacteria outbreak?

Symptoms can change based on the type of bacteria influencing the environment. It is important to speak with a medical professional immediately if an outbreak is suspected.