Let’s Discuss Viruses.

A very common science fiction scenario is a rampant virus that kills off most of humanity or something like that. So, it makes sense that i should post something about it.

When naming viruses, we’re going to go back to the whole kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species thing that you learned in elementary school. The family name ends in -vinidase.  The genus ends in -virus. So, if you decide that you want to make up the name for a virus, keep that in mind when making up your name. Species are distinguished by numbers.

Now,  you must understand that viruses aren’t living organisms. They cannot reproduce by themselves. They need a host cell. Once it finds a host cell, it will then insert its DNA into the DNA sequence of that cell so the cell unknowingly makes the virus.

Then, one of two things happen. Either little part of the virus is made, put together, and then release. Or, the virus makes a whole bunch of little viruses inside the cell and then ruptures the cell and the viruses can spread out into the surrounding area.

That is all very technical in some ways. Let’s move on to maybe slightly easier things.

Viruses are only for targeting one specific type of cell. That is why if you get a cold virus on your arm, it could sit there forever and ever (well, it’d actually die before too long) and never give you a cold unless you wiped it by your mouth or nose. This cold virus will also only effect respiratory tissues.

Keep in mind then that related viruses have two things in common. 1) They have close to the same genetic information. 2) They share the same type of host.

About defenses, sometimes the virus can cover itself with a fatty layer (called a lipid layer). Because your body recognizes foreign substances by proteins, the fatty layer covers the proteins and hides it from the body. The white blood cells also cannot recognize foreign objects if they are inside your cells.]

Viruses aren’t always deadly. Sometimes they are used to transmit good DNA into a cell because of their fundamental characteristics of inserting the DNA. For example, a person with cystic fibrosis (CF) ends up having too much mucous production that blocks their airways (so far as I understand). They can have a virus repair the part of the cell that causes the excess secretions by inserting that DNA sequence into the cold virus (which effects the respiratory tissues that also causes CF). The person will first get a cold, then eventually the cells will start operating correctly and the symptoms are relieved.

Lastly, many of us have heard of the avion bird flu and how dangerous it is. And that is true; the virus is very dangerous. Almost everyone who has gotten it, which are mainly people in Asia and mainly younger children, have died. However, because it’s not able to be transmitted via the air, and can only be transmitted through contact, it has yet to become the deadly menace they thought possible.

So, there’s some about viruses to encourage your creative juices flowing.

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About Abigail

I'm an elementary education major at a college in the Midwest. I might graduate as early as December '13 but more likely May '14. I write when I can. I also knit on occasion, draw, do homework and contradict teachers to make people think. :)

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