What is a Virus
By: Benny Sachs
Have you ever wondered how a virus spreads or how it works?
Hello Mrs Bennett and my fellow classmates today I am going to
be discussing and explaining what a virus is.
Viruses are scary and can sometimes be deadly. They are small infectious agents that seek to find a living organism to act as a host, so that they can cause havoc. Without having a host, a virus cannot survive. When a virus finds a host it starts to replicate (making more) causing the host to become sick. These microscopic parasites can contain either RNA or DNA, as their genetic material. Genetic material is the instruction manual for all viruses and living organisms. The virus particle or “virion” is encased in a protein coat called a “capsid” which protects the DNA or RNA.
Viruses spread by using a vector which is a living organism that bears the disease and transports it to another living organism. An example of vectors are mosquitos. They carry viruses that cause diseases such as Ebola or Malaria. Other insects can also carry a virus from one plant’s sap to another plant. Lastly, some believe kids like you and I are the vectors for the novel coronavirus that is causing Covid-19 which can lead to a deadly pneumonia. Viruses among humans can be spread either through “droplets” like when someone coughs and the droplets land on a surface or onto someone directly into their face. These droplets can then find a portal of entry into the human body when a person touches their mouth, eyes or nose. Airborne viruses are more contagious because the virus can travel through the air which easily enters into our lungs when we take a breath of air. This makes a virus more transmissible.
However, not all viruses are deadly or lead to a very bad illness. Everything depends on the virulence of the virus. Virulence is the severity or the harmfulness of a virus. With Ebola if you contract it then your likelihood of survival is low. This makes it a virulent virus. Varicella Zoster virus which causes Chickenpox is not a very virulent virus. It is unlikely to cause death.
Although, some non virulent viruses can cause death in a host if they have a weak immune system. The immune system is the host’s “army” which is what fights viruses and bacteria. There are people in the world that study viruses, how they work and how they attack people’s immune systems, these people are called Virologists.
Virologists are typically the people that are able to understand a particular virus and how it can be treated. These people create vaccines that you and I receive throughout our lives, so that we do not get sick. These virologiststell you and I how to prevent a virus. Infections from viruses can be prevented by washing your hands often, coughing or sneezing in your sleeve, avoiding touching your face, wearing masks in public, and physical isolation.
Thank you for listening to my speech about viruses.