Medical Definition of Bacteria

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Bacteria: Single-celled microorganisms that can exist either as independent (free-living) organisms or as parasites (dependent on another organism for life). The plural of bacterium. Examples of bacteria include Acidophilus, a normal inhabitant of yogurt; Gonococcus which causes gonorrhea; Clostridium welchii, the most common cause of gangrene; E. coli, which lives in the colon and can cause disease elsewhere; and Streptococcus, the bacterium that causes the common throat infection called strep throat.

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Reviewed on 12/11/2018

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