A virus is a small submicroscopic viral agent that infects only within the living cells of a living organism. Viruses affect all living things, from plants and animals to humans, and include viruses for instance herpes, influenza, poliovirus, and rotavirus. The word ‘virus’ actually comes from the Greek word “vir” for man and “gimma” for swelling. Viruses affect all living things, from plants and animals to microorganisms, such as bacteria and Archaea, with no significant exception. Some viruses are single-celled, whereas others have protein layers.
Symptoms of a virus can appear at any time and can spread rapidly. In most cases, a virus causes no symptoms at all, although there may be local or minor signs of illness. For instance, a common cold will usually clear up in a day or two and may produce mild fever, a cough or sore throat, fatigue or loss of appetite. On occasion, a virus will cause a more significant set of symptoms. These may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation, as well as the more serious symptoms of meningitis, encephalitis, pneumonia, and sometimes a virus that causes the death of infants.
The virus that causes most common colds is called the virus that causes common cold. It is a member of the virus family called the Herpes virus family. Herpes is also known as cold sores, fever blisters or viral infections. Herpes spreads when tiny particles of virus are injected into the mucous membranes of the body. Because the virus is a type of protein, it is harbored by living cells, and outbreaks are caused when these cells come into contact with the surfaces, or secreted by the body, of the infected person.
Some viruses are enveloped within a complex virion, or shell, that invades and colonizes a living host cell. An example of this is the herpes simplex virus that causes cold sores on the mouth and throat. This virus has intruded into the host cell and then multiplied itself, reproducing itself over again. Some herpes viruses are encoded genetically, or encodened on the genetic material of the host cell. This encoding can occur during the early stages of development, like in the case of the HIV virus, or in adulthood, for some viruses such as the hepatitis virus. In either case, the virus will continue to replicate itself once the coding is complete.
There are a number of types of viruses that can have symptoms similar to those of a severe infection, although the progression from mild to severe illness may be different. The distinction between these types of virus is important in determining the appropriate course of treatment. An example of a virus that invades a living cell and produces symptoms is the Epstein-Barr virus, or Ebstein-Barr. Another example is the herpes simplex virus, or herpes simplex virus (HSV), which is the most common cause of genital warts.
When an outbreak of genital warts occurs, most doctors will prescribe a variety of creams or gels to alleviate the discomfort, burning and itching. While these medications can help, they do not cure the virus, only treat the symptoms. In order to successfully treat the virus, doctors must find ways to stop it from replicating. Some scientists are now looking at antiviral drugs as a way to accomplish this task, although they are not yet available on the market.
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