Everybody Hates Viruses

By Sangwook Oh & Jonathan Thomas

Basics of Viruses

  • Viruses have DNA or RNA surrounded by a protein coat called a capsid, and some have a lipid membrane called an envelope surrounding the capsid
  • Viruses are parasites of cells, and they infect cells to make more viruses
  • Viruses reproduce by infecting a cell and using the cell as a factory to make the virus's parts
  • Viruses are very small and much smaller than the cells they infect compared to animal and bacteria cells
  • Viruses are not living because they lack characteristics of life such as metabolism, respiration, movement, and cellular structures.

The Virus's Shape Is Important

Each virus is specific to the area of cells it infects as a result of its shape.

Shapes Of Viruses

Details About The Chicken Pox

  • Name of Virus: Varicella Zoster Virus
  • Symptoms: High temperature, aches and headaches, rash, or loss of appetite
  • The chicken pox spreads in the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
  • Fatality: The chicken pox is rarely fatal
  • Treatment: Acyclovir, an antiviral medication, is licensed for the treatment of the chicken pox.
  • Prevention: The best way to prevent chicken pox is to get the vaccine for chicken pox. Then, safety precautions such as washing your hands regularly ensure the prevention of the chicken pox spreading.

Fun Facts About Viruses

  1. The name "virus" was coined from the Latin word meaning slimy liquid or poison.
  2. Walter Reed discovered the first human virus, yellow fever virus, in 1901.
  3. There are two main types of reproductive cycles for viruses: the lytic cycle and the lysogenic cycle. Diseases that are caused by a virus with a lytic cycle show symptoms much faster than viruses with a lysogenic cycle
  4. Viruses are not classified as living
  5. Half of all human DNA originally came from viruses, which infected and embedded themselves in our ancestors’ egg and sperm cells.