What is a germ?

The term germ is a generic term used to describe microorganisms that can cause disease.

These microorganisms can be bacteria, viruses, fungi, mould, mildew and spores.  All single-celled organisms that can only be seen with the use of a microscope are classified as a germ. Now you may ask, what types of germs or microorganisms are we actually fighting?


Bacteria are microorganisms that do not depend on other organisms for survival.
They can survive on surfaces for long periods including door handles, sinks, mops, rags, or countertops. Common examples of bacteria include Pseudomonas, Staph, Salmonella, Strep, and E. coli.
A single bacterium can reproduce itself every 15 to 30 minutes.


A virus, such as Coronavirus or Covid-19, must have a host in order to survive. Direct contact is required for these microorganisms to survive and has a lower survival rate on a surface.

Common virus examples are influenza, hepatitis, HIV, the norovirus, Ebola and Coronavirus.



A fungus is a primitive plant that is either parasitic, meaning it is obtains nourishment from other living organisms, or saprophytic, meaning it feeds on dead or decaying plant or animal material.

Common examples of fungi include yeast, mushrooms and athlete’s foot.


Mould lives in the soil on plants and on dead or decaying matter. Mould is actually classified as a fungus.

Mould produces tiny spores to reproduce and it has potential to cause health effects including allergies and asthma.



Mildew is a living organism that grows with warmth, humidity and nutrients. It is a thin, black or sometimes white growth produced by mould.



Spores, also called endospores, are generally dormant and can survive for long periods of time, sometimes years, and are generally not killed by most disinfectants.

Health problems associated with high levels of airborne mold spores include allergic reactions, asthma episodes, irritations of the eye, nose and throat, sinus congestion and other respiratory problems.


MRSA is a strain of staph bacteria that is resistant to many antibiotics, mainly methicillin.


Vancomycin-resistant Enterococci (VRE) is a strain of enterococci found in the intestines, which is commonly used to treat enterococci infection.

These germs are a serious concern in many healthcare facilities due to the serious health problems they can cause.

MRSA and VRE are both spread through direct contact with an infected wound or through contaminated hands. So, washing your hands is very important.



Norovirus, also known as the stomach flu, is an extremely contagious virus that is spread through contaminated food and direct or indirect contact. It causes the digestive system to become inflamed causing nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

It is also known as the cruise ship virus because it can run rampant in close quarters such as cruise ships.


Antibiotic-resistant “super bugs” are a significant concern to health care related facilities.

These bacteria have developed resistance against treatment with common antibiotics and are easily transmitted.

In some hospitals, particularly in intensive care units and nursing homes where antibiotic use is often highest, there is higher prevalence of these resistant germs.

Super bugs are harder to treat as there are fewer antibiotics to treat them with.

Disinfectants are 100 to 1000 times more deadly against these bugs on surfaces than the antibiotic treatment for patients.