Virus Facts and Information
The term virus refers to any type of infectious agent that replicates itself without the help of any living thing. These agents are most often caused by the existence of bacteria or other biological structures. Some viruses are also known as retroviruses.
Viruses are usually made up of a protein coat that surrounds an infected cell. When present in host cells, viruses remain as a membrane or protein coat, sometimes enclosed inside a protective membrane. The membrane contains either DNA orRNA that codes specifically for the virus components. The replicating polymer can be completed inside a living cell. Once the replication process is complete, the virus is free to roam about the body. However, to replicate itself, the virus needs to find a host cell to do so.
There are two types of viruses that typically infect living organisms: bacterial and viral. A bacterial virus is created from the genetic material of a living cell. On the other hand, a viral infection is created from a DNA fragment of a virus that replicated itself and then became a host cell. While these two types of viruses cause similar diseases and symptoms, their differences make them very distinct from one another.
Common cold viruses are caused by the common cold virus. Although the symptoms can mimic those of other viruses, a common cold does not actually utilize any virus to produce its symptoms. The common cold virus is contagious, however, and spreads through direct contact or indirect contact, such as kissing, sharing food or drinking water, and touching things that have been previously touched.
Many types of viruses can affect the cellular machinery in the body, causing organ disorders and sometimes death. Some viruses attack and destroy specific cellular machinery, leaving healthy cells uninfected. Examples of these include herpes, shingles, Epstein-Barr, and cytomegalo virus (which cause cancer). Viruses that directly attack and destroy cellular machinery include HIV and various forms of herpes. Viruses that merely affect a host cell by inducing a reaction in the cells are known as retroviruses.
Retroviruses have a common pattern of infection. They enter the host cell through a break in the outer membrane, or envelope, of the virus. When the virus enters the host cell, it inserts its genetic material into the host cell’s genetic code, creating a new copy of the virus. The inserted genetic material often changes the structure or function of the cell, making it dysfunctional.
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