Can Bacteria Be A Parasite?

When it comes to bacteria and parasites, some people might wonder if bacteria can also be a parasite. The answer to this question is, yes, sometimes. A parasite is an organism that uses a host, such as a human body or an animal’s body, to feed and grow while bacteria are single cell organisms that don’t have a nucleus. In fact, they are said to be the earliest cells that were formed on this Earth and were even formed a billion years before eukaryotic cells. Because of this, bacteria are prokaryotic.

The Difference between Bacteria and Parasites

Although bacteria can sometimes be parasites, there are also times when they are not and are just plain old bacteria. Bacteria cause a lot of diseases from the many childhood diseases there are to the many sexually transmitted diseases there are. However, not all bacteria are bad. In fact, there is bacteria in yogurt that helps with our digestive system when we eat it. Not only this, but there is already bacteria in our intestines that are responsible for helping us digest food. So, when the bacteria is a good bacteria, they are not parasites.

As mentioned, parasites use a host to live and grow to other parts of the body. Although not all bacteria are parasites, we do wonder when bacteria can be called a parasite. The bacteria that can be a parasite is when the parasite uses bacteria to live and grow. It all depends on the life cycle of the parasite and how it uses the host. One example could be when someone has strep throat, this is a parasite using bacteria as their host because it then uses the host to grow and spread to another organism. There are other types of parasitic bacteria as well.

Types of Parasitic Bacteria

When bacteria infects the host, grows into more bacteria and spreads to another organism, this is when the bacteria is a parasite. There are actually many diseases that do this and some of those diseases include food borne illnesses such as Salmonella and sexually transmitted diseases. Other types of parasitic bacteria include those that cause small pox, the Bubonic plague, and cholera.

Can Parasites cause infection?

Yes, parasites can cause infection just like bacteria does. According to The University of Rochester Medical Center Health Encyclopedia, what they mainly cause is diarrhea which leads to a loss in fluids in the body which then leads to dehydration. When someone is suffering from dehydration, they are usually hospitalized and given the fluids they need put back in their body. When someone has parasites or bacteria, they are also put on antibiotics to treat it.

Types of Bacteria

Since we have already discussed the types of parasites, let’s now talk about the different types of bacteria that can cause infection.

E. coli

Although E. coli is already found in our intestines, sometimes these bacteria can cause an infection. E. coli causes infection when we eat meat that is undercooked. This is because E. coli is found in the intestines of healthy cattle and if we then eat the meat from this cattle before it is cooked all the way, E. coli can happen. However, you can prevent you and your family from getting E. coli by using the following tips:

  • Thoroughly cook the meat until it is well done. Although some people like medium rare or even rare meat, this is not good for you and the meat should be cooked all the way through to prevent E. coli from forming in your body and making you sick.
  • Use a digital instant read thermometer to ensure the meat is well done. The temperature of the beef should be at least 160 degrees when it is cook all the way through.
  • If you are accidentally served a medium rare or rare burger or anything else not all the way cooked, send it back and tell them to finish cooking it.
  • If anyone on your family has any type of infection, have them wash their hands thoroughly before touching any food.
  • Avoid raw milk. Only drink and eat pasteurized dairy products.
  • Try not to swallow lake or pool water when swimming.
  • Try to ensure your water is treated with chlorine or some other type of disinfectant.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after using the bathroom, especially if you have diarrhea


Salmonella is a bacteria caused by eating foods that have been contaminated with animal feces. These foods normally smell and look fine and include beef, poultry, eggs, and milk. However, some other foods such as unwashed fruits and vegetables can become contaminated. Even peanut butter can become contaminated with salmonella.

You can prevent the transmission of salmonella by doing the following:

  • Make sure to cook all foods thoroughly, especially beef and poultry.
  • Make sure to thoroughly wash your produce before you eat it.
  • Avoid the cross-contamination of your foods. This means keep your uncooked foods away from cooked foods, produce, and especially foods that are ready to eat.
  • Make sure to wash all of your utensils after using them on your uncooked foods and even after using them on cooked foods.
  • Make sure to thoroughly wash your hands when handling uncooked foods, especially when you have to also handle cooked foods and produce.
  • Make sure to thoroughly wash your hands after going to the bathroom, changing a diaper, or handling any kind of feces, especially before you handle food.
  • Make sure to thoroughly wash your hands after you handle reptiles because reptiles sometimes carry salmonella.

These are just bacteria that cause diarrhea. For a complete list of bacteria, check out our articles.

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