How Viruses Work

How Do Viruses Work?

Did you know that the word virus means poison? If you have a virus you may feel like you have been poisoned, but with prevention and proper medical care we hope that you will be able to avoid flu this season. Viruses are challenging because there is so much that we don’t know about them. Less than three percent (3%) of the 4,000 known viruses have been well documented. Here are a few viral facts that we do know, written in simple, non–medical terms.

    1. Viruses are very, very small. (Think tiny but mighty)They are considered subcellular organisms, which virus invading cell. pinkmeans they are smaller than cells and smaller (1/100th) than bacteria. Their size makes them extremely difficult to study and it takes a powerful electron microscope to see them. An individual virus is called a viron.

To get an idea of the size differences – imagine that a red blood cell was roughly the size of a small swimming pool, then the average bacteria would be the size of a beach ball and an influenza (flu) virus would be the size of a marble.

  1. Viruses are parasites. (Think Sticky Pirates)
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  2. Viruses are like tiny, vicious pirates that attack and hijack the resources of healthy cells. Like all parasites, viruses cannot reproduce on their own, but depend upon living cells to reproduce themselves.Some scientists don’t consider viruses “living organisms” because they can’t reproduce on their own and there doesn’t seem to be any reason for them to exist. However, considering the aggressive and creative manner that viruses are abl
    e to mutate, this doesn’t seem to add up. Perhaps, the definition of “living” needs to be re–evaluated and a purpose for viruses hasn’t yet been discovered.

Viruses are covered with “arms” that have sticky fingers that attach to the cell wall. These connectors are called viral binding sites that have a sticky binding protein. It’s like the virus has Velcro fingers that grabs the exterior of the cell and then superglues itself to the cell until it can either inject or force itself through the cell wall. After invading the cell, viruses hijack the operating systems of the cell forcing the cell to make thousands of copies of itself to be released into the bloodstream.

  1. Viruses are Minimalists (Simple, genetically Lean organisms)ebola
    When you compare the basic structure of a virus to a living cell, it is easy to understand why they are so small. Viruses are very lean and have a nucleic acid genome (stores hereditary data), surrounded by a  hell of protein and protein coat called a capsid, that’s all. They don’t have a plasma membrane like regular cells.All living cells contain two types of genetic material, RNA or DNA, but viruses only possess one side of the genetic ladder. Viruses have either RNA or DNA – never both. Additionally, viruses have a small number of genes – HIV has less than ten (10) genes, a human cell has 90,000 and a small bacterium has 7,500 genes.
  2. The Virus Mantra (We are Many!)
    ViSN42a_H5N1ruses believe in diversity. There are about 5,000 known viruses, with more being discovered every year. Because they have a small number of genes it is easy for viruses to swap and share them. The current H1N1, or swine flu virus, is a combination of three different flues – the avian, swine and human. The fact that viruses can mutate and change so easily makes them very difficult to treat. This means that today’s vaccine may not work for next year’s virus.Viruses are classified by several criteria, but primarily by the type of nucleic acid (DNA or RNA) and number of strands they have.
  3. Viral Mission (Let’s share the JOY!) sneezingslowmoViruses love when you share them with others. Viruses have a way of promoting their own life cycle. First they invade a host and if their immune system can’t defeat them, then they will make the host sick (it could be you…but probably your kids). Viruses take over cells in the host, reproduce themselves, and then inject the new viruses back into the blood stream of the host. The host then passes on the virus with the transmission of other bodily fluids (sneezing, saliva, mucus, touch, feces).

So how are viruses passed around? Viruses depend upon body fluids to invade the body. Typically through several ways:guy in bed.flu

  1. Respiratory tract (Nose, throat and lungs)
    Standard influenza is typically spread by people sneezing or coughing virus–laden particles into the air, which others breath in. Another way is by touching infected surfaces and then scratching your nose, eyes, face or ears. Viruses can live up to two days on surfaces which is why it is important to wash your hands and wipe down door handles, keyboards, machines, counters and other areas regularly.  Another way to protect from airborne viruses is to use a spray bottle or diffuser with  essential oils or natural formula.  A simple spritz in the air will help neutralize those airborne critters while making your office, home or car smell great.  Don’t use lysol to spritz unless critical as this product as some studies have shown that continual inhalation of these chemicals has potential side effects.
  2. Gastrointestinal tract (mouth, stomach and intestines)research lab
    When you eat contaminated foods, drinks, water or from contaminated containers, then you can be exposed to harmful viruses and bacteria, which can deplete the system. It’s a good idea to avoid drinking after someone who might be sick and not to share water bottles. Did you know that the avian virus could live up to 100 days in liquid at room temperature and even longer in the refrigerator? In addition to building the immune system, it is important to be prepared with Imodium, drinks with electrolytes, acidophilus, yogurt and to eat a bland diet.
  3. Genitourinary tract (sex organs and urinary tract)
    Herpes and HIV enter the body through sexual intercourse and the exchange of other body fluids. Enough has been said about the dangers of these diseases and prevention, but it’s important to be reminded to be smart and don’t let a 3 or 10 minute joy ride impact the rest of your life.
  4. Blood–to–blood transfer (blood transfusion, shared needles, bug bites)red cells
  5. Shared blood, even in tiny amounts, has caused many infections. Hepatitis C is often spread through shared needles. Mosquito bites can spread the West Nile virus to humans and animals.

In a crowded, busy world, your body is constantly working to protect you from viruses, bacteria and diseases. When you get a virus, the immune system gets a jolt and it must be strong enough to eliminate the virus. If your immune system isn’t able to overcome the virus you will soon be contagious – days before you start to feel the symptoms. This is why, during the cold and flu season, it is important to be pro–active. Get enough rest, eat a proper diet, help your body protect itself (with ProteKdo(TM)) vitamins and other supplements) and, if you do catch the flu, seek medical care quickly.

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