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Letter: Your Say - Virus vs bacterium.

Byline: Dr Barrie Smith

YOUR correspondent Jane Kirby is probably the victim of sub-editing. The headline 'Jabs to fight deadly virus' is wrong (Mail, August 28).

Sub-editors tend to favour the expression 'virus' as perhaps suggesting something sinister and deadly.

That can be true but by no means invariably - the common cold is a virus infection.

The subject of the article, the pneumonococcal vaccine, is given to protect against the pneumococcus - a bacterium not a virus. Bacteria, as also seen in the meningococcal, can kill very quickly.

They do usually respond to antibiotics if given promptly - viruses rarely respond to antibiotics. A bacterium is about a thousand times bigger than a virus. Their growth requirements are different.

One expression is that they are about alike as an elephant and a cabbage.

Dr Barrie Smith, Erdington
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Title Annotation:Letters
Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Sep 8, 2006
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