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Sunday, August 01, 2010

11 How Do We Fight Against Virus Attack?

Found a good article about Virus. Might be helpful to many including IJC fans.

The menace of the future

 
Viruses are entities at the limit of living and non-living. Unlike bacteria, a virus can not feed and reproduce by itself; instead, it needs a host cell to accomplish these functions.

That's why they induce diseases; over 50 % of the human diseases and 90 % of the human infections are virus-provoked. A virus is made by a molecule carrying its genetic information (DNA or RNA) and a protein coating (in some cases). They lack crucial elements for an autonomous life, like ribosomes or cell membrane.

A virus penetrates inside the targeted host cell, and when it reaches its nucleus, this stops working on its own DNA and starts to produce copies of the viral DNA.

In case of RNA viruses, their RNA is turned into DNA and that DNA produces multiple copies of the viral RNA. A host cell can produce till 500 viral copies till it breaks out or simply dies off.

A virus will enter a human body through small skin or membrane (genital or mouth) lesions (like HIV, herpes virus or common wart virus), food (hepatitis A) or droplets (flu virus). Initially, a virus infects the penetration area, but after a time, it reaches all the body through the blood and lymph.

But not all the infected ones get the disease. Only 50 % of those infected by the measles virus suffer by this disease, and in the case of the poliomyelitis virus the rate is even lower: just 1-10 % of the infected develop polio.

Normally, children, those already ill, elder persons and pregnant women are more sensitive to viral attacks, but some viruses can prefer young and healthy people, like that of the Spanish flue, which killed 20-40 million persons in 1918-1919.

Highly contagious viruses must be avoided through quarantine. Another method of fighting against viruses is the vaccine. A healthy person receives a dose of deactivated virus, virus bits, or weakened viruses. The body will react as in the case of a real virus, and will produce specific proteins called antibodies.

If after that the organism enters in contact with the real virus, it already has prepared antibodies and immune cells and will begin an immune action. The viruses die soon and the person will not manifest any symptom. It must be mentioned that antibodies fight only against the viruses that the organism already knows (by vaccine or through inherited genetic information). Breathing masks and gloves can also help in case of epidemics (like SARS).

There is a difference between the healthy cells and the infected ones. That's why in the case of some viruses, researchers were able to develop drugs destroying the ill cells and at the same moment the viruses they carry, like in the case of herpes or hepatitis.

You must know that antibiotics attack just the bacteria; they are of no use against the viruses.

Along their evolution, people developed special immune cells, called killer cells, that locate and eliminate the infected cells, sometimes before the virus reach reproduction.

At the same moment, there are chemicals (interferon and interleukins) that alert the neighboring cells, still healthy, of the closeness of the virus.

Other barriers are represented by the special proteins of the mucosa membranes or the secretions of the respiratory tract, which can retain, for example, the flu virus. Fever is another protective factor: at temperatures that are too high, many viruses cannot multiply.

How can viruses avoid the body's protection?

By continuous mutation.

As its DNA is constantly changing, the human immune system can no longer recognize the typical viral structure. Some viruses modify so fast that they outrun body's defensive.

Usually, the viruses have a specific host (they live in just one or few species to which they are adapted).

But those with a high mutational process are able to jump to another species and produce the disease, and that's the way many new viruses appeared in humans, transmitted from animals, like HIV or SARS.

People can take viruses from animals by eating or touching infected animals or their secretions or through the air. This is favored when people and animals live together in small spaces, like in the case of SARS in south Chinese markets or by bush meat, the hunt in pristine places, teaming with new viruses that can jump to humans (and against which humans are defenseless), like it happened in the case of HIV.

When animal viruses enter in contact with human viruses (like flu virus) that transmit easily, and interchange DNA portions, can result new extremely powerful viruses that can inflict massive epidemics, like in the case of the Spanish flue.

That's the concern about the bird flue virus: whether or not it will interchange DNA material with the common human flue virus.

Source of article: News.softpedia.com

11 comments:

praveen said...

I am posting this comment in two parts as it is not accepting it due to its large size.-----
Thanks for the nice article on virus.

It reminds me of an interesting fact that I learnt sometimes back
and which changed my views of observing and analyzing various things/incidences around me.

I want to share it with you all---

There are some Human friendly viruses too, called Bacteriophage (Bacterios = bacteria, Phage = Feeds - means 'which feeds on bacteria'), which are found in the river Ganges.

It is a rocket shaped virus which attacks the bacteria by landing on its surface and lets its RNA enter the bacterial nucleus by dissolution of the cell wall of the bacteria
( you can imagine a rocket dissolving the surface by its exhaust flame). This RNA uses the bacterial DNA system to produce virus copies instead of the bacteria progeny as nicely narrated by you.

The new viruses thus produced using the nuclear material of the harmful bacteria attack more and more bacteria and the process goes on -----thus purifying the water of the river Ganges.

This Bacteriophage works well in alkaline medium but dies in acidic medium.

Our ancestors knew this and hence the tradition of throwing copper coins started-as Copper makes Cuprous ion Cu++ . Keeping Ganges water in a copper pot for a few minutes also has the same effect.
Praveen

Contd----

praveen said...

CONTD.---


OUR MISFORTUNE--

---- Due to our -- Lakeer Ka Fakeer attitude we are throwing any type of coins, be it copper, iron, aluminium, alloys or even gold and silver ones, not only into river Ganges, but into any large river-- causing a huge national loss.
Some people even throw their gold and silver jewellery into the river Ganges-- and are sometimes even coaxed to throw it into a cordoned off area --from where the touts later remove them for their use.

---- People are now a days putting Ganges water in copper pots for periods much longer than required, thinking that the longer the better---which in fact makes the water harmful.

---- Throwing of the biological material (flowers, leaves etc.), harmful chemicals from our industries and household wastes is polluting the water by making it acidic besides causing other harmful effects-----Any Biological material produces H+ ion (a strongly acidic ion)due to the decomposition of the protein it has---thus killing the bacteriophage.

NOW----

----These Human friendly Bacteriophage are getting extinct. They are now restricted to Gomukh (the origin of the Ganges) only, due to increasing acidity in the waters of our precious river, caused by our ignorant and careless attitude.

It is high time that we should understand the reasons behind various traditions and ceremonies conducted by our ancestors and save our heritage and avoid any irreversible loss.

Praveen

praveen said...

I am extremely sorry---due to some fault in the connection I was unaware of the repetition of my comment-please do me a favor and delete the extra ones.
Thanks
Praveen

Krishna said...

This is one of my favorite Mandrake comics. Tks to all .

Krishna said...

Wish all a healthy, peaceful new year!

Sagar said...

I love to visit your blog over & over again as it reminds me of my childhood fantasies.For information on computer "VIRUS" & how to prevent your network of computers from their attack you can visit >>
www.netsecurity4free.blogspot.com

Thanks & Regards,

sagar@hifriends.8m.net

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