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Viruses, explained

Virus

Viruses are not alive by most definitions. They are generally smaller than most bacteria, about a tenth of the size of a human blood cell. 

The structure of a virus is very simple: Each one consists of either DNA or RNA, enclosed in a protein pocket called a capsid. Viruses can't generate their own energy nor reproduce without the assistance of a host.

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Viruses, explained

Viruses, explained

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/health-and-human-body/human-diseases/viruses/

nationalgeographic.com

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Key Ideas

Virus

Viruses are not alive by most definitions. They are generally smaller than most bacteria, about a tenth of the size of a human blood cell. 

The structure of a virus is very simple: Each one consists of either DNA or RNA, enclosed in a protein pocket called a capsid. Viruses can't generate their own energy nor reproduce without the assistance of a host.

Viruses multiply

Viruses cannot move or reproduce without the help of a host cell. When a virus finds a host, it can increase and spread quickly.

To find a host, viruses have receptors on their surfaces that match up with their ideal target cell. It then takes over the cellular machinery inside the host's cell to reproduce by multiplying the virus's genetic material and proteins.

How viruses spread

  • Inside their cellular host, a virus can create a huge number of copies and spread the infection to other cells.
  • Viruses may spread from person to person through the mist of droplets from your mouth every time you cough or sneeze.
  • Some viruses spread through contact with other bodily fluids. Ebola virus spreads from contact with infected blood, feces, or vomit, and not through the air.
  • Other viruses travel through an intermediary, like a mosquito, which then infects people by biting them.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Outbreak terms

  • Endemic is a disease that regularly infects humans, like the flu.
  • Pandemic is a worldwide spread of a new disease. 
  • Epidemic

Public health measures

  • Social distancing is a slew of tactics meant to keep people at a six feet distance from each other to keep droplets from an infected person's nose or mouth from landing on another person.
  • Quarantine is restricting the movement of, or isolating, people who might have been exposed to an infection but who aren't sick.
  • Isolation is separating people with confirmed or probable infections from other healthy people.
  • Lockdown is a term used by public health officials or lawyers to refer to anything from mandatory geographic quarantine to non-mandatory recommendations to shelter in place, to anything in between.
  • Cordon sanitaire is the restriction of movement in and out of a region or city.
  • Shelter in place is an order requesting people to stay at home, except for trips to the grocery store, pharmacies, and other essential errands.

Medical equipment

  • A ventilator is a machine that assists a patient in breathing when they have trouble breathing on their own.
  • PPE (Personal protective equipment), such as masks, gloves, face shields, and other gear that keeps health care workers from catching an infection.
  • A respirator is a face mask that seals around the mouth and filters out particles from the air before they are breathed in.
  • Surgical mask or face mask are loose-fitting masks that don't filter out all the particles but stop a wearer from spreading droplets of contagion when they sneeze or cough.

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The new virus

They are a group of viruses that cause respiratory infections, including the common cold.
They can infect certain animals and spread from one animal to another. They can reach t...

The symptoms

Common symptoms: coughing, fever, and shortness of breath. Non-respiratory symptoms (feeling nauseous, vomiting having diarrhea) were also reported.
The virus is more violent with the elderly, the very young and with individuals that have a weak immune system. The majority of those infected however recover after a few days.

Spreading the virus

Coughs or sneezes from an infected person are the most likely to spread the virus. So it's essential to follow basic hygiene rules:

  • Wash your hand often during the day.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with your inner elbow or a napkin.
  • Don't touch your eyes, nose, or mouth with your hands.
  • Stay inside if you have any of the symptoms and avoid interacting with people that show signs of the infection as well.

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We remain vulnerable

We remain vulnerable

For all our advances in medicine, we remain more vulnerable to pandemics than we would like to believe.

To understand our vulnerability and to establish what steps we need to take to end ...

The Black Death

In 1347, the Black Death came to Europe, first brought by the Mongol army, then spreading through Europe.

In six years, tens of millions fell gravely ill. Nearly half of all Europeans succumb to the Black Death, one-third of Egyptians and Syrians were killed, and it also laid waste to parts of central Asia, India, and China.

Disasters that scarred humanity

  • In AD 541, the plague of Justinian struck the Byzantine empire, killing roughly 3% of the world's population.
  • When Europeans reached the Americas in 1492, the two populations exposed each other to completely novel diseases such as measles, influenza, and smallpox.
  • Centuries later, the interconnected world made a global pandemic possible. The Spanish flu of 1918 spread to six continents where between 3% and 6% were killed.

However, even the Spanish flu pandemic had a minimal apparent effect on the world's development. It was less significant than the first world war, which had a smaller death toll but a more substantial impact on the course of history.

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