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What are viruses? A few details you might not know about

October 3rd is International Virus Recognition Day

Viruses are a part of human existence that have invaded every possible area of our lives.

With the advent of COVID-19, the resurgence of polio, we are all paying much more attention to viruses. We know them by the name of the disease they cause: Hanta, Hepatitis, Astro or Noro. Sometimes we only remember them by cryptic acronyms like CVE, H3N2, or HPV. None of them are really popular. Because they are responsible for a variety of unpleasant and sometimes serious diseases, they have gained a bad reputation. We often do not have effective drugs to fight them.



What are viruses?

The answer requires a deeper study of their appearance and how they affect human life. Simply put: it is genetic material.

Viruses are not living beings, but only a type of infectious agent. They do not have cells, cannot reproduce on their own, and do not have their own metabolism.



Viruses are very, very small. They have a diameter of 20-300 nm, a scale of one billionth of a meter. Compared to all known microbes, viruses are tiny. They can only be seen with fluorescence ultramicroscopy or electron microscopy.

Viruses can appear in two forms. First, they exist outside host cells as infectious particles called virions. In this form, the virus spreads from one host to another. Most virions carry a protein coat. They can exist for decades without a host and do not lose their infectious potential. Once they are able to infect a new host cell, they change their viral form and start replicating, borrowing the DNA replication systems and metabolism of the host cell.

About 3,000 types of viruses are now known.

Evidence of the earliest viral infection was found in the deformed bones of a 150-million-year-old dinosaur fossil. Our understanding of viruses, their behavior and molecular mechanisms has been growing since the late 19th century.

The fact is that because the metabolism of the virus and the host cells are so closely interconnected, we lack the right drugs to fight them. By killing the virus, the host cell is also under attack. On the other hand, there is a bright side associated with the development of medicine. The researchers discovered that the modified viruses could be used to kill targeted tumor cells or antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

If you don't want your body to have an unfriendly neighbor, follow some rules:

1. Regularly ventilate the premises and carry out wet cleaning - both in the apartment and in the work premises.

2. Follow a healthy lifestyle, which involves a full sleep (at least 7-8 hours a day).

3. In the season of colds, heavy strength training should be limited, because they reduce immunity; recommended exercise with mandatory elements of breathing exercises.

4. The diet should include at least 50% raw vegetable food (cauliflower, white cabbage, carrots, beets, garlic, onions, spinach, horseradish, tomatoes, apples, pumpkin, currants). It is necessary to reduce the consumption of refined and heat-treated products to a minimum. The diet should include legumes and nuts, which are natural immunomodulators.

"Life on Earth is at an ever-increasing risk of being wiped out by a catastrophe, such as a sudden global nuclear war, a genetically engineered virus, or other dangers we have not yet thought of." - Stephen Hawking.


Ulyana Romanyuk - acting head of the virological laboratory of the Lviv Regional Center for Disease Control and Prevention of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine



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