Rabies is not all the Rage

Brooke Hall and Zoe McDonald

What is The Structure of Viruses?

1. They have DNA or RNA surrounded by a protein coat called a capsid.

2. Some viruses that are more complex possess a lipid membrane that surrounds the capsid and it is called an envelope.

3. They are very small in size.

What Do Viruses Do To Cells?

Viruses rely on host cells to reproduce. Due to this need, viruses invade cells that they are specialized for and infect them. Essentially, a virus takes over its host cell. The cell will no longer complete its intended function, but it will complete the tasks instructed by the genetic material of the virus.

How Do Viruses Reproduce?

As suggested above, viruses cannot reproduce on their own. They rely on a host cell to reproduce. Viruses reproduce in two ways: through the lytic cycle or through the lysogenic cycle. In the lytic cycle, a virus attaches to a cell that will initially be its host. Next, the virus enters its host cell. Then, the host cell makes countless copies of the virus. Finally the new viruses leave the host cell, bursting it open and destroying it. Similarly, in the lysogenic cycle, a virus attaches to a cell and enters it. This time, however, the virus combines its genetic material with its host cell's genetic material. As a result, when the cell divides, each new daughter cell will have the genetic material of the virus. In each cell, the virus lies dormant until it is triggered by a particular response of the body. Once the viruses are triggered, they go through the lytic cycle. In comparison, the lytic cycle is much faster than the lysogenic cycle.

The Size Comparison of Viruses to Bacteria and Animal Cells

Viruses are very small in size; they range in size from 5-300 nanometers (nanometers are a unit of measurement that is smaller than micrometers). This means viruses are smaller than both bacteria and animals cells. Bacteria cells range in size from 0.2 to 10 micrometers while animal cells vary in size from 10 to 30 micrometers. If virus, bacteria, and animals cells were listed in order of size from smallest to largest, it would look like this: virus cells, bacteria cells, and then animal cells would be listed last.

Why are Viruses not Cells?

Viruses are not cells because they lack the genetic machinery needed to reproduce and carry out many essential functions on their own. Additionally, viruses do not have any of the cellular structures, or organelles like ribosomes, or the mitochondria.

Disease: Rabies

The word "rabies" orginates from a Latin word that means "to rage."

Virus: Rabies Virus

Rabies is caused by a virus which includes RNA as its genetic material.


The first symptoms that arise from rabies consists of fever, headache, weakness or discomfort, and a strong itchy feeling near the bite. As time progresses, symptoms may include anxiety, discomfort, agitation, delirium, hallucinations, insomnia, and excessive saliva.

How is Rabies Spread?

Rabies is spread through the saliva of infected animals. Infected animals can spread the virus by biting another animal or person. In rare cases, this virus is spread by the infected saliva of animals touching human's moist skin surfaces. Most cases of rabies are contracted in developing countries.

Is Rabies Fatal?

Once symptoms of the disease develop, rabies is nearly always fatal. It's estimated that nearly 55,000 people die from rabies each year.

What Treatments are Available for Rabies?

If treatment is received very soon after exposure to rabies, the emergence of symptoms and death can essentially be prevented. The treatment given to patients for rabies varies based on whether there are symptoms showing or not. If symptoms are not shown, but infection is suspected, a course of treatment called post-exposure prophylaxis is used to prevent the development of a rabies infection and the sign of symptoms. Post-exposure prophylaxis has three stages: the cleaning of the wound, the administration of rabies immunoglobulin (a preparation of antibodies), and then rabies vaccines are administered. However, if a patient has symptoms of rabies displayed treatment may likely be focused around making you comfortable because at that point the disease is nearly always fatal.

How Can Rabies Be Prevented and How Can You Prevent Yourself From Contracting This Disease?

Rabies is a viral disease that can be prevented by the administration of specific vaccines and quick medical attention. The best way to prevent yourself from contracting rabies is by following multiple steps:

  1. Avoid wild animals like skunks, bats, or raccoons. In addition, avoid contact with stray animals like cats or dogs.
  2. If you have pets, make sure their shots and vaccinations are up to date and that they are treated with appropriate care to prevent them from contracting rabies.
  3. Keep your pets indoors to avoid exposure of them to animals who may have rabies.
  4. Keep your trash concealed to prevent the attraction of wild animals to your home.

The hyperlink below is for a website which includes a lot of information over the viral disease known as rabies.