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Antibiotics, bacteria, etc

  1. Apr 11, 2004 #1
    Hey guys, I have two questions:

    1. My friends niece was brought into the hospital last night with suspect of spinal meningitis. They don't know if it is bacterial or viral yet. The doctor went ahead and started treating the niece with antibiotics, but they think (and are hoping) it is viral because viral is the most common and the least dangerous of the two.

    My question is, can antibiotics help at all with a virus? I know antibiotics target bacteria, not virus. I know that viruses use a cell's machinery to reproduce, so is this the point of the antibiotics? Can you target the specific type of cell or bacteria that the meningitis causing virus would use to reproduce in?


    2. I recently had strep throat. I know strep is a gram positive bacteria, and was given a broad spectrum antibiotic, along with steroids, etc, to treat this problem.

    First, when the doctor looked at my throat, he noticed a lot of puss on my (palatine??) tonsils. Is this the action of neutrophils phagocytosing the strep out of my tissue? Also, since the tonsils are lymph organs, is this why there was so much "activity" here?

    Second, isn't it common for strep to live in the throat? If so, how do you get strep throat? Is it a different species/strain of strep that is the bad one? Or is it just an "overgrowth" of it?

    Third, how does the antibiotics that I was given kill the strep? I know there is tons other bacteria in my body that need to live, so how does the broad spectrum just kill the disease causing strep? I know that the broad spectrum just really targeted the gram (+), but isn't there other gram (+) in my body that need to live?


    And a third, bonus question.. :) Since lymph removes wastes, water, WBCs, etc from tissue, and exercise really helps lymph move, would it stand to reason that if you don't exercise/move around for a long period of time to say that you would experience a lot of edema in the body? Is that why your feet tend to feel "fat" at the end of a long airplane ride? Would you look "skinnier" after a hard workout that problem got a ton of lymph moved back into the circulatory system?
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2004
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 11, 2004 #2


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    The antibiotics are given as preventive measure rather than to cure because by the time they reaslize it is a bacteria it might be too late to start the treatment. Antibiotics will not kill any virus.

    Usually antiviral drugs will target viral enzyme that are need for its production. These enzyme tends to be absent or different enough from the cellular enzyme. You do not want to target the cell directly because it might have some nasty side effects. Infected cell can express viral protein/receptor on their surface and these can be used as a target for the drugs to be ingested by the cell. Human virus will not infect bacteria and reproduce.

    Puss is white blood cell agragating at a site of infection. Theferore they are trying to phagocytose the strep.

    Yes, if you touch your tonsil during infection they are usually inflated. Sometimes, depending of the location of infection, one tonsil might be inflated whereas the other is not.

    No, strep or any bacteria are not in your throat if you are healty. Strep are in your nose and nasopharynx and strep throat is due to bacteria moving in lower due to many reasons. Sometimes you may get infected with a new strain/species of strep and it takes over the microflora. Some strain are more virulent than other and when you are under immunological stress these strain migth over take your system because your immune system cannot fight.

    Any bacteria that is sensitive to the antibiotics will be kill, good or bad. Killing mechanism of antibiotics will depend on it natural but basicaly, some antibiotics stop protein synthesis, other disrup cell membrane and other form pores and lyse the bacteria.
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