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Bacteria are living things that have only one cell. Under a microscope, they look like balls, rods, or spirals. They are so small that a line of 1,000 could fit across a pencil eraser. Most bacteria won’t hurt you – less than 1 percent of the different types make people sick. Many are helpful. Some bacteria help to digest food, destroy disease-causing cells, and give the body needed vitamins. Bacteria are also used in making healthy foods like yogurt and cheese.

But infectious bacteria can make you ill. They reproduce quickly in your body. Many give off chemicals called toxins, which can damage tissue and make you sick. Examples of bacteria that cause infections include Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, and E. coli.

Antibiotics are the usual treatment. When you take antibiotics, follow the directions carefully. Each time you take antibiotics, you increase the chances that bacteria in your body will learn to resist them causing antibiotic resistance. Later, you could get or spread an infection that those antibiotics cannot cure.

NIH: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Cellulitis is an infection of the skin and deep underlying tissues. Group A strep (streptococcal) bacteria are the most common cause. The bacteria enter your body when you get an injury such as a bruise, burn, surgical cut, or wound.

Symptoms include

  • Fever and chills
  • Swollen glands or lymph nodes
  • A rash with painful, red, tender skin. The skin may blister and scab over.

Your health care provider may take a sample or culture from your skin or do a blood test to identify the bacteria causing infection. Treatment is with antibiotics. They may be oral in mild cases, or intravenous (by IV) for more severe cases.

NIH: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

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