The Hot Zone: How Viruses Work

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by MrReGlog
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The Hot Zone: How Viruses Work

THE HOT ZONE BY RICHARD PRESTONCAUTION: READING THIS GLOG WITHOUT A DECON SHOWER AND SPACE SUIT MAY RESULT IN, BUT IS NOT LIMITED TO FEVER, SORE THROAT, WEAKNESS, SEVERE HEADACHE, JOINT OR MUSCLE ACHES, DIARRHEA, VOMITING, DEHYDRATION, OR DEATH. ID CODE PLEASE...YOU ARE NOW CLEAR TO ENTER

Viruses are going to infect you in a specific order. There are steps to how a infects and replicates. The most important thing to keep in mind is that viruses need a living host. Without a host's cells, a viruses is essentially just a piece of potentially dangerous mass. The steps of infection are:1. A virus attaches itself to a host's cell.2. The virus releases its genetic material (DNA) into the cell.3. The injected material recruits the host cell's enzymes. 4. The enzyme makes parts for new virus particles.5. The new particles assemble into new viruses.6. The new particles break free from the host's cell. After this whole process is over, there are many more copies of the virus. They go and infect newer cells, replicating. As scary as this may seem, your body does a satisfactory job protecting yourself from these aliens.

Well, okay. So viruses are not "alive." How do they function then?

Ebola (Filovirus)

In Biology A, one of the first things discussed when we moved to the topic of microbiology was viruses. The class was almost led to believe that viruses are alive. After the class debates, the true answer was revealed: viruses are not alive, according the majority of scientists. This answer confused many students; they did not know how somethings that has DNA, mutates, and replicates could not be alive. The main and strongest case against the this is that viruses are not cellular. They are not composed of cells - a key factor in determining life.

Wait... Viruses have DNA, and they can replicate. Alive? Nonliving? Neither?

In Biology A, we learned about the basics of viruses. We did not, however, include definitions of the biohazard levels or explain that there is a system of ranking the dangerousness of a virus. There are four levels to viruses - four being the highest. The common cold is, for example, a level one virus. Ebola, the virus in The Hot Zone, is a level four virus. We cannot kill viruses with antibiotics or medications, as we learned in our first semester of Biology. Viruses are not bacteria, and they are not cellular, so they cannot be killed. They are merely organic compounds, or carbon molecules.

So, what's a level 1 or 4 virus? Can we kill it with medication?

No, silly. We have an immune system for a reason. Although viruses evolve at rapid rates, we are programmed with our own "anti virus" software - our immune system. We have these things called a macrophage. These will attack any viruses it finds. So, rest assured, there are not any real threats at this point in time. And the movie Contagion is fictional.

We can't kill them? ARE VIRUSES GOING TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD?


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