What’s a Virus and What Can it Do?

Sick Virus

We know the word “virus” but do we actually know what a virus is? Besides it being nasty malware on our computer, a virus also refers to infectious germs that enter our bodies. Here is some useful information about viruses and their effect on the human body.

Viruses Can’t Do Much on Their Own

Viruses are teeny-tiny particles that can be found in the air or on surfaces, including the human body. A virus needs a host in order to replicate and grow. Interestingly, viruses have characteristics that mimic those of living and non-living organisms. All viruses are covered with a protein called capsid, but only some viruses are enveloped with an extra membrane. The absence or presence of this membrane plays a role in how the virus interacts with a human host.

The Life Cycle of a Virus

Even though viruses need a host in order to function, they still go through a life cycle. A virus starts by attaching to its host, usually through distinct proteins that sit on the surface of a cell. At this point, the virus can use the cell to enter the host’s body. The cells register that there is new DNA in the body, so they work to replicate it, which is what causes the virus to spread. Once the virus is mature, it is expelled through the cell.

Effects of a Virus

There are different types of viruses out there, and they do a variety of things to the human body. Some viral infections lead to the cold or flu, while others cause chickenpox or tuberculosis. There are even some viruses that have been linked to cancer, but these are few and far between. In general, immunizations can build up a resistance to viral infections, and medication can speed up the maturation so that the virus leaves the cells sooner.

from Nicholas Sasson, MD | Science https://nicholassassonmd.org/whats-a-virus-and-what-can-it-do/

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