Viruses, structures, causes and prevention

Reference & EducationEducation

  • Author Ekure Stanley
  • Published March 1, 2024
  • Word count 850

Viruses are microscopic organisms composed of genetic materials, either DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) or RNA (ribonucleic acid), enclosed in a protein cote. viruses are not considered to be living things because they are neither single celled or multi celled in nature, but are composed of only genetic materials which can only replicate inside a host cell. Viruses are incredible creatures that even their existence tends to raise various theories without having any prevalence conclusion. Since viruses have to get into a host in other to made copies of themselves, most of them become harmful to the host causing sickness and even death; an example is the Ebola virus which causes Ebola fever. However, some viruses coexist with their host without causing any harm; an example is the influenza a virus. This virus have affected humans over time and can now adapt without causing any serious harm or danger. In this article, we will explore the structures of viruses, causes of virus related sicknesses, and the prevention and control of viral related infections.

The origin of the word "virus" can be traced back to Latin, with the term derived from the Latin word "vīrus," which means "poison, slime, venom". The Latin term is a result of rhotacism from Proto-Italic *weizos, which comes from Proto-Indo-European *wisós, meaning "fluidity, slime, poison". The word "virus" was first used in the computer context by David Gerrold in his 1972 book "When HARLIE Was One". The modern scientific use of the term "virus" dates back to the 1880s. Initially, the term referred to venereal disease, and its meaning gradually evolved to encompass infectious diseases caused by viruses.

Structures of viruses

Viruses are simple infectious agents with a structure that typically consists of a nucleic acid (DNA or RNA) enclosed in a protein coat called a capsid. Some viruses also have an additional outer membrane envelope. They lack organelles and are dependent on host cells for replication. The nucleic acid carries the genetic information, and the capsid protects it. The capsid is made up of protein subunits called capsomers, which self-assemble to form the capsid. Viruses are classified based on the type and size of their nucleic acid, the size and shape of the capsid, and the presence of a lipid envelope surrounding the nucleic capsid.

Causes of viral related sicknesses

Viral related sickness can be caused by a variety of viruses that invade living cells and use them to multiply. The symptoms of viral infections can range from mild to severe and can affect different parts of the body, including the respiratory, nervous, gastrointestinal, and reproductive systems. Some of the common viral illnesses include colds, the flu, COVID-19, norovirus, HPV, herpes simplex virus, and HIV. Viruses can be spread through droplets and particles, touching contaminated surfaces, sexual contact, and being bitten by an infected insect or animal. Some viruses can cause life-threatening or chronic illnesses, while others may not cause any symptoms. The diagnosis of viral infections is based on symptoms, blood tests, cultures, or examination of infected tissues. Antiviral drugs may interfere with the reproduction of viruses or strengthen the immune response to them.

How to control viruses

Controlling viruses involves a variety of methods, including reducing exposure to the virus, eliminating nonhuman reservoirs, eliminating the vector, improving sanitation, and developing vaccines. Vector control and sanitation have contributed greatly to controlling viral diseases. Antiviral agents, including virucidal agents, antiviral agents, and immunomodulators, are now available for the therapy of several viral diseases. Interferon alpha is also available for the therapy of several viral diseases. In healthcare settings, infection control measures should be implemented into standard procedures to prevent the transmission of all viral respiratory infections. These measures include optimizing the use of administrative and engineering controls, indoor air quality, and personal protective equipment. The overall benefit of broader masking is likely to be the greatest for patients at higher risk. Universal use of source control could be discontinued as a mitigation measure once the outbreak is over. It is important to note that human activities, such as hunting, butchering, farming, and the global trade of animals, can cause viruses to cross over from animals and cause pandemics like COVID-19.

In summary, Viruses are microscopic infectious agents that can only replicate inside a host cell. They are composed of genetic material, either DNA or RNA, surrounded by a protein coat. Some viruses also have an additional envelope that helps them enter host cells. Viruses can infect all living organisms, including humans, animals, plants, and bacteria. While some viruses cause diseases, others can coexist with their hosts without causing harm. The study of viruses is called virology, and it includes the classification, structural organization, chemistry, assay, biological status, cultivation, and transmission of viruses. Scientists are also exploring how viruses can be used to help humans, such as in gene therapy and cancer treatment. Despite their potential benefits, viruses can also pose a threat to human health, as evidenced by the COVID-19 pandemic caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Therefore, it is important to continue researching viruses to better understand their nature and develop effective treatments and preventive measures.

The effects of viral related infections in our society cannot be over emphasized. Therefore, it is important to know the methods that can be used to prevent or control the spread of a viral pandemic.

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