Pathogens Overview Hero Image

UVC light is a proven tool in the fight against disease-causing pathogens like viruses and bacteria. The efficacy of UVC light in destroying these types of germs has been recounted in both research studies and field applications for decades. But how does it work, and more importantly, what viruses and bacteria can it target? This information will help you understand the differences between viruses and bacteria, and the diseases they both can lead to.

The Difference Between Pathogens, Germs, Viruses and Bacteria

Pathogens and germs are catch-all terms that encompass viruses, bacteria and other microscopic particles which can cause illness in humans. In modern science today, the term germ has been replaced with pathogen, but the two words are often used interchangeably.

Bacteria are larger than viruses and can reproduce on their own. Viruses are much smaller, and reproduce by infecting a host and using the host’s DNA repair and replication systems to make copies of itself.



Viruses are microscopic organisms made up of a piece of genetic code, such as DNA or RNA, protected by a coating of protein. Viruses are parasitic, meaning they require a host cell for replication. Viruses invade host cells within the body, and use components of the host cell to replicate, producing more viruses. This process can damage or destroy the infected cells.

When the invasion of a virus causes a health condition, it creates a viral disease. Not all viral diseases are contagious, meaning they can’t spread from person to person. But many are. Some are minor and go away on their own within a few days; others are more serious. There is no cure for viruses, but vaccinations can help them from spreading. Viral diseases do not respond to antibiotics.

There are several sub-categories of viral diseases, some of which are listed here.

Respiratory viral diseases affect the upper or lower parts of the respiratory system, and often cause a runny or stuffy nose, coughing, sneezing, fever and body aches. They are typically contagious, spreading through airborne droplets from coughing or sneezing, or by touching contaminated objects such as doorknobs. Examples include:

  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)
  • Covid-19
  • Influenza
  • Common Cold

Exanthematous viral diseases cause skin rashes and additional symptoms. Many are highly contagious, and spread through respiratory droplets from the sneeze of cough of an infected person. Examples include:

  • Measles
  • Rubella
  • Chickenpox
  • Shingles
  • Smallpox

Gastrointestinal viral diseases affect the digestive tract, lead to a condition called gastroenteritis, and can cause abdominal cramps, vomiting and diarrhea. They are contagious and can be transmitted by sharing personal items with someone infected. Examples include:

  • Norovirus
  • Rotavirus
  • Astrovirus

Hemorrhagic viral diseases involve damage to the circulatory system, and may cause fever, body aches, weakness and bleeding. Examples include:

  • Ebola
  • Dengue Fever
  • Yellow Fever
  • Lassa Fever
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According to experts

With an estimated 10 nonillion (10 to the 31 st power) individual viruses on our planet, there are more viruses than there are stars in the universe.



Bacteria are microscopic single-cell organisms that can live in just about any environment, including the body. They are single-celled with a simple internal structure that lacks a nucleus, but contains DNA. Some have one or more layers or protective outer covering; others have no cell wall at all.

Most bacteria multiply through binary fission, where a single bacterial cell makes a copy of its DNA and doubles it cellular content. The cell then splits in half and creates two identical cells. Others reproduce via budding, where a new cell grows as an offshoot of an existing cell. Once it’s the size of the original cell, it splits off.

The vast majority of bacteria do not cause diseases, and many are beneficial or even necessary for humans, for example they can aid in digestion. Others are detrimentally pathogenic, capable of causing infections and producing diseases by reproducing and crowding out healthy bacteria, or growing in tissues that are normally sterile. Antibiotics are typically used to treat bacterial infections. However, some strains of bacteria have become resistant to antibiotics making them difficult to treat. Examples of bacterial infections include:

  • C. diff
  • Cellulitis
  • Chlamydia
  • Diphtheria
  • E. coli
  • Leprosy
  • Meningitis
  • MRSA
  • Necrotizing fasciitis
  • Pneumonia
  • Salmonella
  • Sinus infection
  • Staph infection
  • Strep throat
  • Syphilis
  • Tetanus
  • Tuberculosis
  • Typhoid Fever
  • Urinary Tract Infection
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According to experts

According to the CDC, at least 2 million people in the U.S. are infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria every year, leading to the death of at least 23,000 people.


What about coronavirus and Covid-19?

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses transmitted between animals and people that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). Covid-19 is a viral disease caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus, a new strain of coronavirus that had not been previously identified in humans.

The World Health Organization has determined that the novel coronavirus, the virus that causes Covid-19, is spread by contact with respiratory droplets. Those droplets are primarily spread from person to person through close contact of approximately six feet or less. They can also be spread by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it, and then touching the mouth, nose, or eyes.

In research Safeology commissioned with Innovative Bioanalysis, an independent Level 3 Biosafety Laboratory, the Mobile Air Purifier 1800 was proven to reduce aerosolized SARS-CoV-2. The device displayed a 98.44% reduction after 10 minutes, and achieved a 99.998% (4-Log) reduction after 20 minutes.

The study report concludes by stating “Taking into consideration the starting concentration of SARS-CoV-2 virus and the volume aerosolized, it can be assumed that the likelihood of entering an environment with this high a level of pathogen present in a real-life circumstance to be unlikely. In addition, based on the understood method by which UVC exposure deactivates pathogens it would be expected that similar results on the various genetic mutations of SARS-CoV-2 would occur.”