Posted on May 19, 2020
Category: Signs and Symptoms
Every day, we are exposed to a huge variety of germs, bacteria and viruses. We might even absorb billions of viruses every day without even knowing it. Some of these viruses are good for the body and can be completely harmless… while others can be extremely dangerous. Certain viruses are prime contenders for spreading disease and causing death.
Knowing how viruses work can be of extreme value and help you take the appropriate precautions in order to keep you and your family safe.
Humans have been fighting viruses since the beginning of our existence, and they are nothing to take lightly. Dreadful viruses like the Bubonic plague and the Spanish flu were extremely dangerous and took the lives of millions.
Luckily, vaccinations and other modern medicine practices have been able to slow or stop the spread of particular viruses. Unfortunately, this does not currently include the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. While we wait for the development of a vaccine, there are important things to know about viruses… like what even is a virus?
What is a virus?
To describe them simply, a virus is a strand of genetic information. That genetic information is either DNA or RNA, double stranded or single stranded. They all rely on infecting a host, whether that be an animal, a human or any living organism. By infecting a host, they are able to survive by reproducing. After the virus has infected someone or something, it is able to create copies of itself. That’s why prevention is the best medicine!
How they work.
The first clue into the nature of viruses came in 1898. Friedrich Loeffler and Paul Frosch found evidence that the cause of foot-and-mouth disease in livestock was an infectious particle smaller than known bacteria. In fact, viruses can be 1000 times smaller than bacteria. This helped indicate that they live in the gray area of being alive or not.
Like we mentioned above, the primary role of the virus is to duplicate itself. It does this by delivering its DNA or RNA genome into the host cell. Once inside the host cell, viruses disrupt or hijack various parts of the cell. The virus will create conditions within the host cell that allows for them to spread. They do this in order to mutate so that the host’s immune system doesn’t immediately adapt and subdue the virus. After time, the host’s immune system should be able to adapt and kill the virus.
How you can contract a virus.
Contacting a virus can be very easy. Respiratory passages, like your mouth or nose, and open wounds can act as gateways for viruses. Sneezing and coughing is one of the easiest ways of spreading a virus. Tiny droplets containing the virus can easily be inhaled, but, fortunately, these droplets are heavy and cannot travel far. That’s why people should stay at least 6 feet away from each other in public.
It isn’t only sneezing and coughing that can spread viruses, though. A virus can also be contracted by insects and animals. Certain viruses can survive inside insects and infect a host’s body after an insect bite, and the Ebola outbreak of 2014 was believed to be initially spread from a boy being infected from a bat.
Here’s how you can protect your family.
The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus. And the best way to avoid being exposed is to practice good hygiene. According to the CDC, here’s what you should do to protect you and your family from viruses including Covid-19.
- Wash your hands and wash them often. We’ve all heard that we need to wash our hands for 20 seconds with warm water and soap. Do this after sneezing, coughing or visiting public places.
- Avoid close contact with others. Some people without symptoms are able to spread the coronavirus COVID-19. That’s why staying six feet away from others is so important.
- Cover your mouth and nose around others. A face cover is not a substitute for social distancing but is encouraged when out in public.
- Cover coughs and sneezes. Always cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or with the inside of your elbow.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces. Be sure to disinfect door handles, tables, phones, light switches, sinks etc.
Following the CDC guidelines is your best way to avoid contracting COVID-19. High-quality, patient-focused care is waiting for you at Urgent Care on 85th and Minnesota. If you’re ever feeling sick, get remote care with Telemedicine at Urgent Care.