Monday, October 3, 2016

10 Facts About Viruses

Can you believe that there is a day dedicated to appreciating viruses? Why would we celebrate something that can affect us so negatively?  National Virus Appreciation Day was created to take a step back and look at viruses from a more philosophical view, to appreciate the sophistication and power of something that is so small.

In honor of these microorganisms, we’ve put together a list of 10 things that you might not know about them!
  1. Viruses are not alive, as they do not have cells, cannot turn food into energy, and are basically just capsules containing genetic material, however, they aren’t dead either – as they have genes, can reproduce, and evolve. In contrast, bacteria are one-celled, living organisms.
  2. In order to reproduce, viruses invade cells and act as a hijacker, often destroying the invaded host cells.
  3. Viruses are responsible for numerous diseases, including the Common Cold, Influenza, Ebola, Measles, AIDS, Rabies, Polio, and Chickenpox.
  4. Antibiotics have no effect on viruses, which is why overprescribing is such a problem and it’s imperative to only take antibiotics when needed.  Your best line of defense against common viruses like the flu is standard infection control methods like proper handwashing and getting a flu vaccine.
  5. The word “virus” comes from the Latin word for “poison” or “toxin”.
  6. Viruses can infect animals, fungi, protozoa, archaea, and bacteria.  There has even been evidence that suggests they may be able to infect other viruses!
  7. Humans are half viruses.  Viruses infected and embedded themselves in our ancestors’ egg and sperm cells and therefore half of all human DNA originated from them!
  8. Viruses are considered the most abundant biological entity on the planet – almost every ecosystem contains them.
  9. There are some “good” viruses that will protect their host from harmful bacteria, such as E.coli.
  10. One of the oldest and well-documented stories revolving around a virus is the history behind Smallpox.  Documented human cases go back 3,000 years! 
At the end of the day we can all agree on one thing – viruses are definitely not something to sneeze at!

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