Infection By Bacteria

Bacteria are one-celled living creatures, usually classified with the plant family. There are two general types of bacteria, one being spherical and the other rod shaped. These are called cocci and bacilli, respectively. We will first consider some specific infectious agents and subsequently general diseases caused by bacteria and their rational treatment.


Staphylococcal infections commonly produce boils on the skin. They can also cause serious infections in the lungs, long bones, kidneys, and surgical wounds. Many of these are among the diseases of “medical progress,”iatrogenic (doctor caused) disorders seen in hospitals, complicating surgical treatment or the use of drugs.

Staphylococcal infections may enter a newborn nursery, for example, and cause serious infection in premature or weakened babies. A number of enzymes are produced by small “Staph” germs that enable them the multiply in a walled off cavity, while pus develops as your body’ s defense.

The tendency of Staphylococci to change their reproductive needs (mutate) has caused them to develop frequent resistance to the older standard antibiotics. Pustules may occur in many locations— hair follicles on the face, under the arm, in the groin, and wherever the skin is broken.

More extensive infection may appear among diabetics— carbuncles or deep infection of the bone (osteomyelitis). Any child who develops fever, limb pain, or joint pain should be suspected to have osteomyelitis. A physician, in such cases, should be contacted to obtain appropriate blood tests and cultures.

Staphylococcal pneumonia may develop in children or hospitalized patients. Whenever the germs are present in the skin, they may enter the blood stream causing bacteremia. Another type of infection with the Staphylococcal organism is food poisoning. A toxin is produced in contaminated food, which is frequently of animal origin, such as cream-filled pastries, cottage cheese, milk products, or meat.

With improper refrigeration, the toxin is liberated. After about one to six hours, a sufferer will develop nausea, vomiting, cramps, diarrhea, and prostration. Rest and supportive treatment are needed during the acute phase, which is normally followed by a rapid recovery. Vegetarian foods are much less likely to be involved with toxins such as we see in food-borne epidemics.

Streptococcal Infection

These cocci appear under the microscope in the form of chains. Several types can be distinguished by culture. Those considered the most virulent are called beta-hemolytic Strep. These germs produce the typical Strep. throat and most cases of acute tonsillitis.

In some people a rash will follow the acutely sore throat, in which case a diagnosis of scarlet fever is made. Most of these Strep. infections need to be eradicated quite promptly to prevent serious potential complications of rheumatic fever and glomerulonephritis. Both can produce chronic disability and damage vital organs.

In throat infection, fortunately, alternating hot and cold gargles and heating compresses can be applied with considerable effectiveness. Complete avoidance of sugar during the acute illness is important to help white blood cell defenses and ensure rapid recovery.

When skin or wound infections with the Streptococcal organism results, hot and cold compresses again will prove very beneficial. The fine red streaks that one sees in an infected finger or toe are caused by lymphangitis, usually related to this organism. I have used charcoal poultices with rapid benefit also.

Erysipelas is another Strep. infection of the skin. Aggressive hydrotherapy in the early stage must be used to prevent complications; for occasional deaths have been seen in this infection, particularly in young children.

Bacterial Meningitis

The organism most commonly responsible for meningitis is the meningococcus germ, also called Neisseria meningitis. This organism is seen in military recruits, and sporadically throughout the general population.

The sudden onset of high fever, a hemorrhagic skin rash, low blood pressure, rapid heart rate and respiration, stiffness of the neck, and severe headache, should warn the family of the potential onset of meningitis and alert them to seek a physician immediately!

Emergency medical treatment is needed to prevent serious complications—a tragic aftermath of arthritis, adrenal failure, blindness, deafness, seizures, or even death!

Gonococcal Infections

The most common “reportable” communicable disease in the United States today is gonorrhea. The genital organs are most commonly involved in this disease, considered sexually transmitted, especially through high-risk encounters with multiple partners. Currently this venereal disease (V.D.) is a formidable epidemic.

Usually in the male there is a discharge of pus from the urethra, associated with painful and frequent urination. Without immediate treatment, lymph node enlargement, pain in the scrotal sac (epididymis), and urinary outlet obstruction (urethral stricture) will result.

Female patients frequently develop an increased vaginal discharge, with severe pain in the deeper pelvic organs. Abscesses may form. Prompt treatment is necessary to prevent the development of stricture in the Fallopian tubes, which could produce sterility.

Although in prior decades, fever therapy was used with success in the treatment of gonorrhea, current public health recommendations should be followed to prevent the spread of this disease associated with promiscuity and immoral behavior. Condoms are not the whole answer to V.D. We need to lift society to the higher moral standards of God’ s Word again.

Intestinal Bacilli

A number of germs are normally found in the intestinal tract. These include Escherichia coli, Bacteroides, and many other germs. Some of these are our friends in producing important substances for nutrition, such as Vitamin K and inositol. Invading the body outside the intestinal tract, however, E. coli (the most common intestinal germ, Escherichia coli) is definitely harmful.

Infections of the blood stream may occur as a complication of urinary tract infection. These organisms can cause abscesses anywhere in the body tissues. Children under two years of age sometimes develop an intestinal infection typified by nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Many similar outbreaks occurring in nurseries have been associated with a specific strain of E. coli. As with other infections, drainage of pus and the removal of foreign bodies are essential. Often the outcome of these infections depends upon the status of the associated disease, rather than the mere eradication of bacteria.

Next to E.coli, strains of Klebsiella and Enterobacter are the species of intestinal organisms most apt to infect man. Klebsiella is a well recognized pulmonary invader, causing serious bacterial pneumonia. Often the sputum will contain blood, and cyanosis or shortness of breath may develop rapidly. Chronic infections of the lungs are sometimes seen.

Proteus is another similar organism, which has whip-like projections called flagella to enable it to “swim”. These bacteria may infect the urinary tract, also invading eyes, ears, mastoid sinuses, or blood stream.

Salmonella infections are common in the U.S. They occur frequently in travelers to underdeveloped nations. Various types of disease can result; usually they are intestinal in nature and result in diarrhea.

Typhoid fever is a systemic disease caused by Salmonella typhi. The disease is unique to man and characterized by malaise, fever, abdominal discomfort, rash, and enlargement of the spleen. The most prominent complications are intestinal hemorrhage and perforation.

In a typical patient not treated with antimicrobials the illness lasts about four weeks. With supportive care, barring complications, the recovery is good, although some “carriers” are known. About 3% of infected patients will continue to excrete organisms in the feces for years. They have been known to infect others where careful screening for food handlers has been lacking.

Other Salmonella infections involve gastroenteritis, usually seen in large epidemics among individuals eating contaminated food. After incubating for 8—48 hours the organisms cause a sudden onset of abdominal pain and watery diarrhea, usually with mucus or blood.

Low grade fever is common, and symptoms usually subside within 2—5 days. Public health organizations often attempt to isolate the germ carrier, in order to prevent the spread of this epidemic. The most important preventive, besides food surveillance, is personal hygiene, including hand washing.

Minimizing the time that foods are allowed to sit at room temperature reduce the chances of growth of these infectious organisms. The rule-of-thumb to prevent bacterial food poisoning is known as the two-forty-one hundred forty (2—40—140) rule.

Simply explained, it means that any susceptible food—meat, milk, mayonnaise, poultry, custard, etc.— must never be left longer than two hours at a temperature either above 40 degrees F. or below 140 degrees F. Both refrigerated and hot foods are able to inhibit the multiplication of bacteria, thus avoiding toxin formation that would otherwise cause food borne disease.

Shigellosis is an acute self-limited infection of the intestinal tract, characterized by diarrhea, fever, and abdominal pain. This is frequently called bacillary dysentery. Severe dehydration may result in some patients who are not given adequate fluids during the diarrhea stage.

As in Salmonella infections, the treatment of Shigellosis is primarily supportive, with the correction of salt or fluid abnormalities, followed by an uneventful convalescence. Proper sanitation and adequate sewage disposal will prevent most of these infections.

Hemophilus Infections

These bacteria, called Hemophilus, cause a variety of diseases. Pharyngitis (sore throat) is commonly seen in children. At times the throat may become severely inflamed, producing inflammation of the valve behind the tongue, the epiglottis (epiglotitis).

Shortness of breath, with a reddened, swollen, stiff epiglottis may constitute a medical emergency. Croup also develops in children with a raspy cough, and profound fluid accumulation in the larynx and trachea. If not treated promptly with cool mist and supportive measures it can prove fatal.

Pneumonia caused by the Hemophilus organism is usually seen in children, as is also otitis media, a middle ear infection, and meningitis. In these complications prompt bacterial isolation with the appropriate medical treatment will usually prove effective.


Brucellosis or undulant fever is caused by microorganisms transmitted from domestic animals. The acute illness is characterized by fever, while weakness and vague complaints may persist for months to years, when the disease becomes chronic. Three species are found in goats, hogs, and cattle.

The infection is usually spread by cow’ s milk or skin contact (udder) with the Brucella organism. When the disease is suspected, appropriate blood tests are needed to confirm the diagnosis. Then specific medical therapy can be instituted. With the appropriate inspection of animals and the avoidance of contaminated milk and milk products, this occupational disease can be well controlled.


Various bacteria of the Pasteurella family have been associated with epidemics of plague around the world. About 200 species of rodents may harbor this organism. After an incubation period of 1-12 days a patient develops an acute severe illness. The more common bubonic plague develops abruptly with chills, headache, vomiting, rapid heart rate, prostration, and delirium.

A flea bite at the portal of entry rarely can be seen. The “bubo” consists of a matted group of lymph glands, which usually develops pus and drains after 1-2 weeks. Plague may also take the form of pneumonia. Infection may localize in other regions of the body.

Although often misdiagnosed, plague should initially be treated with hot, moist applications. Specific therapy should await a bacteriologic diagnosis. A similar type of illness seen in animal bites with local cellulitis should be treated as most bacterial infections are. If plague is suspected, see a doctor immediately; this illness is extremely infectious.


The Diphtheria bacteria that cause this acute infectious disease usually enter through the upper respiratory tract. During the incubation of one to seven days the germs make a toxin that is absorbed and carried through the blood stream to all parts of the body.

Then a fever begins, associated with a membrane on the throat, listlessness, pallor, weakness, and finally vascular collapse. Although occasionally restricted to the nose, diphtheria usually involves the throat (the pharynx and larynx), and in tropical areas it is responsible for some cases of “jungle sore”.

Complications may involve the extension of the membrane, which obstructs the respiratory tract or equally serious a toxic myocarditis, a vascular collapse, or neuritis. Patients with diphtheria should be isolated and kept on strict bed rest. Antitoxins should be obtained and given to the patient, while general supportive measures are carried out.

Preventive immunization in infancy should be routine. The standard protocol of three initial DPT inoculations (or in the case of Pertussis sensitivity, a DT immunization is available) followed by booster doses at one and six years will usually confer lifelong protection.


Cholera is an acute illness of the small intestine. Occurring in epidemic forms, a generally painless diarrhea follows the entrance of the germs by 6 - 48 hours. Several liters of fluid may be lost within hours, leading to profound shock. With prompt fluid and electrolyte replacement, dehydration can be combated, bringing a prompt physiologic recovery.

Inadequately treated patients may die from shock, acidosis, or kidney failure (uremia). Therefore, prompt and massive fluid replacement is vital. A satisfactory solution can be prepared by adding five grams of sodium chloride, four grams of sodium bicarbonate, one gram of potassium chloride to one liter of distilled water.

Hydration must be maintained until the diarrhea subsides. Cholera prevention, for travelers, is available with a standard vaccination. In countries where cholera is epidemic, a single inoculation prior to departure is recommended.


This acute, often fatal disease is caused by a germ toxin (exotoxin) produced in any closed wound by the organism Clostridium tetani. Tetanus is characterized by sudden rigidity and convulsive spasms of the skeletal muscles. The tetanus bacillus grows anaerobically, that is, in a wound where oxygen is excluded.

For this reason puncture wounds are often a source of tetanus infection. Gun shot wounds and animal bites also have been suspect, as well as lacerations that are sutured without adequate cleansing. Supportive measures, usually in a hospital, are important to effect recovery from tetanus.

Hot packs to relax the muscle spasm, adequate care of wounds and the simple but effective toxoid vaccination can give protection. Vaccinations should be boosted every 10 years. In cases of an acute open wound, which appears contaminated, the human tetanus antitoxin should be given along with a tetanus toxoid vaccination to passively protect the individual from illness during early convalescence.


This acute form of poisoning results from the ingestion of a toxin produced by Clostridium botulinum. Progressive paralysis descends from the brain stem to the skeletal muscles and is often fatal. This germ grows in improperly sealed non-acid canned foods, such as fish or beans, which have been cooked insufficiently to destroy all germs.

Outbreaks have been seen from commercially processed fish, tuna, peppers, and soups. It is impossible to tell that a food is infected by the taste. However, boiling a home-canned food for ten minutes will destroy the toxin completely. Because of the threat of respiratory failure, a person suspected of having botulism should be hospitalized.

Artificial respiratory support may be required for a long time. Because of the current mortality rate of 25%, the primary prevention through proper canning procedures and food preservation is vital.

Gas Gangrene

Gas gangrene is another clostridial infection produced by the introduction of anaerobic organisms into a wound. Within a few days, severe pain develops in the injured part. Below this point the tissue becomes cold and swollen and eventually develops into gangrene. The wound drains a watery brown material, which may have a sweet odor.

Immediately opening the wound to permit adequate oxygen entrance is important, associated with hydrogen peroxide irrigation and therapies that draw fluid from the wound. This may include the use of dry sucrose (table sugar or honey), increased oxygen, and rarely in more serious cases amputation to prevent death from this severe complication.

The most reliable protection against gas gangrene is thorough cleansing of the wound. Avoiding unsterile surgical procedures (septic abortion) prolonged labor, or operative interference with pregnancy can also help prevent these infections.


Once a prime cause of death around the world, tuberculosis is seen today mainly in underdeveloped societies. Fear of recurrence in the Western world is surfacing, especially in military barracks, prisons, inner city ghettos, and communities of immune suppressed men (AIDS).

Pasteurization of milk has reduced greatly the incidence of bovine tuberculosis, which a generation ago commonly affected the intestinal tract. The lungs are now most often afflicted with development of characteristic abnormalities detectable by X-ray.

Symptoms of tuberculosis include fatigue, night sweats, cough, sputum production, shortness of breath, and rarely the coughing up of blood. During all of these activities droplets are sprayed from the lungs, which may contain tubercle bacilli. Using a tissue to trap the aerosolized particles, and disposing of it immediately will prevent most of the contagion due to tuberculosis.

In chronic pulmonary tuberculosis, chest x-rays show scars with scattered calcium deposits. These, however, during a time of lowered resistance may reactivate, producing illness and contagion once again. The TB skin test, when positive, indicates a person has previously contacted tuberculosis germs and that his immune system recognizes and sets up a battle against them.

PPD (purified protein derivative) or Tine tests for tuberculosis are helpful screening procedures to detect active infection in the community. Public health laboratories then will perform sputum cultures and other needed follow-up measures in the detection and treatment of this illness.

Avoidance of contact with other people, particularly in the spread of the respiratory form, and hygienic healing measures, especially sunshine, adequate rest and proper diet, may produce a natural cure of most cases. Extrapulmonary tuberculosis involving bones and kidneys has responded to prolonged exposure to sunlight in some European health centers.


Knowledge of this widespread affliction of mankind has its root in Biblical history. Called “Hansen’s disease” today, this organism is closely akin to the tubercle bacillus and belongs to the Mycobacterium family. Ten to twenty million persons in the world are affected with leprosy.

It is more common in tropical countries; in many third world nations 1-2% or more of the population are affected. Leprosy is frequently a family infection. Several different types of the disease are known. Early leprosy is usually seen on the skin with pigmented plaques and patches demonstrating anesthesia.

The tuberculoid leprosy develops later with larger raised lesions having no sensation (anesthesia) associated with large painful nerves. These may occur behind the elbow or knee and are associated with anesthesia in the affected limb. Contractures of the hands and foot drop (paralysis) are frequent.

Trauma, especially from burns and splinters, and excessive pressure lead to the secondary infection, ulcers, and the loss of fingers and toes. Lepromatous leprosy creates an unusual appearance of the face, often making the hapless victim appear like a lion. The skin is primarily involved and early symptoms are those of nasal stuffiness or nose bleeds.

Saddle nose, due to perforation of the septum (the wall between the two nostrils) may occur while lymph nodes may enlarge painlessly. Although neurological involvement is less common, this type is actually more contagious. Other types of leprosy are seen with variations of the above.

Although a specific drug (Dapsone) is widely used today, in reality there is no complete cure. It is suspected on the basis of animal studies that some form of fever induction may prove the therapy of the future, with public health control measures and quarantine limiting the spread. For further information you may wish to contact the following: Leprosy Research Foundation, I1588 Lawton Court, Loma Linda, California 92354.

Venereal Diseases

Venereal diseases are increasing in frequency today, due to the lack of moral restraint in society. Gonorrhea has been discussed above, but several other types are commonly seen. Syphilis is a chronic infection of the entire body, caused by Treponema pallidum and is usually sexually transmitted.

After an incubation period of about three weeks, a primary sore develops with enlargement of the nearby lymph nodes. Generalized rash on the skin develops in the secondary stage and after a latent period of many years, the tertiary stage can develop with progressive destructive lesions in the muscle, bone, aorta, or central nervous system.

Although primary treatment with fever therapy was formerly effective in cases of syphilis, any current outbreak should be confirmed with appropriate blood (serologic) tests, a dark—field microscopic examination, and specific therapy as recommended by public health departments. Other venereal infections include chancroid and lymphogranuloma venereum. These less common venereal disorders also must be treated definitively to prevent contagion.


The preceding decade brought a new life-threatening disease into the vocabulary of every nation. AIDS (the acquired immune deficiency syndrome) is primarily transmitted as a venereal disease. First discovered in homosexual males, the syndrome quickly spread, soon encircling the world.

Millions of women acquired the infection from their bisexual partners. Growing exponentially around our globe, this disease is caused by a virus called HIV (human immunodeficiency virus). A similar virus is now found in cows (the bovine immunodeficiency virus). Drug abusing men and women pick up the virus from contaminated needles.

Many hemophiliacs have acquired the infection from blood product transfusions. Sporadic case reports of hospital workers and physicians have raised the spectrum of risky needle sticks, surgery, and invasive medical procedures. Gloves are mandated for medical contact with all body fluids (called universal precautions).

Latex is not adequate protection, however. It frequently contains microscopic pores, and the virus can pass through easily. From their first knowledge of AIDS, physicians in hospitals began to practice isolation precautions. Lobbying tactics from homosexual advocates quickly pushed legislators into enacting laws preserving the confidentiality of AIDS carriers.

This has increased the risks to dentists, paramedics, physicians, and all health care providers, who may not even know their patient is carrying a lethal virus. Most hospitals today refuse to isolate HIV carriers, ignoring its contagiousness and the scientific research provided. There is no known cure for HIV infections.

Most of the victims eventually develop full blown AIDS. This may develop in several ways. Sudden infection, with drug-resistant tuberculosis or pneumonia caused by an opportunistic germ such as Pneumocystis carini, may befall. This directly reveals the devastation of the patient’ s immune system.

Lymphocyte counts are dangerously low; and the hapless patient must be supported with powerful and expensive drugs, usually for the rest of his life. Unusual forms of cancer, such as Kaposi‘s sarcoma, may appear. One dentist, carrying several of these lesions in his mouth, continued to treat patients.

Several of them eventually developed AIDS and died. This disease, as mentioned above, has run rampant in the militant homosexual population. Could there be any better warning to modern man? The Creator’s plan for marriage, one man and one woman, mated and committed for life, is the only safe course for pure sexual harmony as well as disease prevention.