Sunday, July 28, 2013


Viruses can be found everywhere. However viruses are not living. Theses organisms are not living but as soon as they find a host they become active. Viruses are very interesting in that they only stick to things that they know. For instance plant viruses only affect plants and animal viruses only affect animals. Viruses are very small. They can be up to 10,000 times smaller than bacteria, or about one millionth of an inch. They are made up of a collection of genetic material encased in protein called capsid. Sometimes the capsid are covered by more proteins, lipids, and carbohydrates that might have spikes to help the viruses attach to host cells. This picture shows the different layers that are possible on a virus.

Viruses enter the body through the nose, mouth,  through your skin, or any opening in the body and they find a cell to be their host. So this why when somebody sneezes near you, you then get the virus, because the virus from their sneeze then goes in your nose or onto your skin. Once the virus gets inside the cell it makes a new virus and leaves that cell to go to contaminate other healthy cells in the body. When the virus leaves the cells it can leave in two ways. The first way is to break the host cell open, in this situation it destroys the host cell. The other way the virus can get out is to pinch out from the cell membrane, in this situation the host cell does not get destroyed. Either way the virus leaves it is still affecting the healthy cell and this is how viruses make you sick because they ruin the healthy cells. Doctors have made vaccines to prevent viruses because antibiotics do not get rid of viruses but some can stop them from spreading. So it is very hard to get rid of viruses. Sometimes they leave the body within a few weeks and other times they stay for years or even a lifetime. So since it is so hard to get rid of viruses the best thing to do is to prevent them. The first step in preventing viruses is good hygiene. The other way of prevention is vaccines. A vaccine is a small dose of the actual virus to get the body to build antibodies to fight against the specific germ. Some people also use home remedies to get rid of viruses or to prevent them. Most people are willing to do whatever it takes to get rid of viruses or to prevent them since they are so hard to get rid of and can become something very serious.


  1. You mention that viruses stick to what they know. I believe this generally holds true even within the animal kingdom and humans. However, I know that recently there have been issues with the avian flu because it has started to spread from birds to humans. Did you read anything on why this might be happening?

  2. Thats a good thought Stefanie. I have always struggled with why a vaccine for HIV has not yet been made. I would imagine it is because the virus is so strong, the body has a difficult time making antibodies to fight it. At the same time, many of the other vaccines we have today are for dieseases that were just as deadly at one point in time. Something that might be iterresting to look into.

  3. Viruses typically specialize on one species and evolve to not kill that species, since the best strategy for the virus to spread is to keep you alive and sneezing on your fellow species members. But when viruses do hop to a new species this relationship breaks down and the virus can be very deadly. This is why cases like the avian flu or past swine flu outbreaks can be very dangerous.

    The HIV virus mutates and evolves very quickly, so a vaccine that leads to the production of memory B-cells against the virus will stop working as those antibodies will not be able to recognize the outer coat of the virus once it changes. Researchers are trying to identify a part of the HIV structure that is required for infection and does not change, and then target a vaccine against that structure. There have been some promising developments in this area, but so far no vaccine that works.