How Do Viruses Cause Disease?
A virus is usually a very tiny submicroscopic infectious entity that duplicates itself inside an organism’s living cells. The name virus comes from the Greek word “virus” and “koid”, which means infection. Viruses affect all life types, from plants and animals to microorganisms, such as bacteria and Archaea. There are several hundred thousand known viruses and a large majority of them have not been discovered.
Every virus has a protein coat that makes the virus impervious to the immune system, making it dangerous to be inhaled or ingested. In order for the body to fight off a virus, the body has a unique response that involves producing antibodies (this stops the virus from invading healthy tissue). These antibodies, however, can make the body’s immune system attack healthy tissue instead of fighting off the virus, resulting in a fatal condition known as AIDS or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). In addition to the antibodies, there are many covalent amino acid protein fragments or polymer chains known as antigens that come together and initiate a reaction with the antibodies. This reaction causes the release of a molecule called immunoglobulin, which is needed to bind with HIV and initiate the process of the viral response.
One virus that has been associated with causing AIDS is the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). The HPV virus can be contained within infected cells and reproduce itself by replicating within the host’s living organisms. These include the cells of the skin, lungs, heart, liver, kidneys, blood, and cervical cancer cells. Unfortunately, there is no known cure for the HPV virus. However, there are various treatments available to either attempt to suppress HPV replication within the body, or to combat the effects of the disease in its early stages.
An envelope virus surrounds a bacterium or virus when they co-exist. For example, there is some evidence that the West Nile virus, which is found mostly in the south, may be carried by the animals that travel south from northern regions. The capsid or envelope protein of any virus is the protein complex that includes its genetic material. The capsid surrounds the genetic material of the virus or bacterium so that, when the virus or bacterium is damaged by external stimuli such as temperature, it is not transmitted to other living organisms.
The outer membrane of the virus or the capsid is usually very thin. The virus or bacterium is able to spread through the body of any living cell. The viruses can replicate themselves rapidly, thus making it very difficult to destroy them once they have infected a living cell. However, the body’s natural immune system responds to the virus, causing it to replicate more slowly. When the virus replicates quickly enough, the virus can start to destroy the healthy cells around it, resulting in its death.
In order for a virus to become a killer, it must first enter the body of an animal or a person. Then, the virus must mutate into inactive form that cannot harm living cells. Only then can the virus return to the living cells and begin to replicate itself again. If the viral particles are able to return to the infecting cell, it will replicate itself more rapidly and continue to spread throughout the body until it reaches the lungs or other areas of the body where it is not needed.
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