<em>Clostridium tetani</em> b/w <em>Clostridium tetani</em>

Clostridium tetani

These bacteria are usually found in soil they enter the body through breaks in the skin. Clostridium tetani causes tetanus (lockjaw). This is a serious human disease that causes painful tightening of the muscles, usually all over the body. It can lead to "locking" of the jaw so the victim cannot open his mouth or swallow.

Microbes and the human body

The surfaces of the human body inside and out, for example the skin, mouth and the intestines, are covered in millions of individual micro-organisms that don’t do us any harm. In fact they help to protect us from becoming infected with harmful microbes. They are known as the normal body flora.

The number of normal bacterial cells that live on the body is in the region of 100 million. This number is 10 times greater than the 10 million cells that make up the human body.

Artwork of a human figure surrounded by disease-causing microbial pathogens

Microbes and disease

Microbes that cause disease are called pathogens. Find out which microbe is responsible for causing malaria!

Computer artwork of the immune system protecting the body against invading pathogens

Immune system

An infection can be seen as a battle between the invading pathogens and host. How does the immune system work?

Illustration of antibody action on invading bacteria

Antibody-antigen

Discover more about the antibody antigen interaction.

Close-up of a running nose

Transmission of microbes

Find out how you can pick up germs and pass them on to others.

Close-up of a doctor giving an influenza (flu) vaccination.

Vaccination

Just a shot in the arm - what do vaccines do?

Notes on and a drawing of the original culture plate of the fungus Penicillium notatum

Antibiotics

Antibiotics are powerful medicines that only fight bacterial infections.

Giardia lamblia

Did you know that this protozoan causes really bad flatulence!

Bacillus thuringiensis

Discover how this bacterium can be used as a pesticide.