Directions: Read the passage below and, then, answer the questions that follow it.
English employs some unscientific, yet interesting, language to describe events occurring in everyday life. For example, storks fly through the sky to deliver babies, and people catch a bug that makes them sick. These expressions came about as early humans tried to explain the world around them. Although modern people understand reproduction, many remain confused about what specifically causes some common illnesses. If asked to define a bug, they may respond by saying it is a germ. However, this answer only leads to three other questions.
First, what is a germ? It is more accurate to refer to germs rather than germ, for a germ is not one organism. In fact, germs exist in several microscopic forms. When people say they have caught the flu bug, they are actually referring to a virus, one of the four forms of germs. Viruses are microorganisms that must live inside living cells in order to grow and reproduce. Outside their hosts, they will die. Tiny, one-cell germs, called bacteria, also need hosts in order to live. Sometimes, these hosts are humans; other times, they are not. Another group of germs, called fungi, also needs plants or animals in order to live. This is because fungi cannot manufacture their own food. However, unlike the other two groups, they do not usually live inside people. The last group of germs is protozoa, the smallest known members of the animal kingdom. Protozoa live in soil. In order to live, they receive nourishment from dead or decaying organic material. They are often found in rivers and other sources of water because they prefer a moist environment. If people ingest this contaminated water, the protozoa will enter their bodies, where they will reproduce and grow.
If germs depend on humans and other organisms for their reproduction and growth, are germs harmful? The answer to this question is both yes and no. Some examples using bacteria will help explain this answer. If a bacterium such as Streptococcus pneumoniae enters the human body, pneumonia – an infection that can lead to death – may occur. However, without bacteria, humans could not live, for many bacteria are also good for people’s bodies. Bacteria live in the intestine, where they help the body use the nutrients in food. In addition, they help turn excess nutrients into waste that is later eliminated from the body.
How are germs spread? They are transmitted in a variety of ways. A major source of transmission is the air. When people have a cold, they often sneeze. If they do not cover their mouths when they cough, germs enter the air and spread. Humans are also another source of transmission. Soap and water destroy most germs, so unclean hands can spread these organisms to other people. However, humans are not the only means of transmitting germs. Insects can be a source of transmission. For example, if a tick infected with Borrelia burgdorferi bites people, they can develop Lyme disease.
To summarize, germs are microscopic organisms – especially ones that cause diseases – that can be described according to three major aspects. They exist in four forms. While most people think of them as always being harmful, these tiny organisms can be beneficial at times. They are transmitted in three major ways.
1. What is the best title for this reading?
a. Early Humans’ Beliefs
b. What Causes Illnesses
d. Questions and Answers about Germs
2. What is the organizational pattern for this reading?
3. What organizational pattern does the second paragraph follow?
4. What is a stork (paragraph 1)?
a. an airplane
b. a germ
c. a bird
d. a person
5. What does the verbal phrase “catch a bug” mean (paragraph 1)?
a. are bitten by a bug
b. are infected by a bug
c. see a bug
d. kill a bug
6. What is a synonym for “microscopic” (paragraph 2)?
7. What is a “host”?
a. an animal infected by a germ
b. a microorganism living inside a plant or animal
c. living cells from which germs receive their nourishment
d. living cells inside which certain germs grow and reproduce
8. What is not a synonym for “moist” (paragraph 2)?
9. Viruses can grow and reproduce on their own. True or false?
10. Which are larger, protozoa or fungi?
c. There is not enough information to answer this question.
11. Which group of germs does not live inside their hosts?
c. both “a” and “b”
d. neither “a” nor “b”
12. Are germs harmful?
d. none of the above
13. Based on the reading, what other source of transmission is not mentioned in paragraph 4?
14. The four forms of germs mentioned in this reading are ___, ___, ___, and ___.
a. organisms, viruses, microorganisms, fungi, protozoa
b. organisms, viruses, hosts, bacteria
c. viruses, hosts, bacteria, protozoa
d. viruses, bacteria, fungi, protozoa