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VIRUS

Virus, an infectious agent of


small size and simple
composition that can
multiply only in living cells of
animals, plants, or bacteria.
The name is from a Latin
word meaning “slimy liquid”
or “poison.”
Viruses occupy a special
taxonomic position: they are
not plants, animals, or
prokaryotic bacteria (single-
cell organisms without
defined nuclei), and they are
generally placed in their own
kingdom. In fact, viruses
should not even be
considered organisms, in the
strictest sense, because they
are not free-living; i.e., they
cannot reproduce and carry
on metabolic processes
without a host cell.
Viruses are quintessential
parasites; they depend on
the host cell for almost all of
their life-sustaining
functions. Unlike true
organisms, viruses cannot
synthesize proteins, because
they lack ribosomes (cell
organelles) for the
translation of viral
messenger RNA (mRNA; a
complementary copy of the
nucleic acid of the nucleus
that associates with
ribosomes and directs
protein synthesis) into
proteins. Viruses must use
the ribosomes of their host
cells to translate viral mRNA
into viral proteins.
Human Diseases Caused by
Viruses
When a cell is infected with a
virus several effects may be
seen. Many viruses cause no
harm or disease whatsoever.
However, some viruses may
attack certain cells
andmultiply within them.
Spread of viruses
Viruses cannot exist on their
own and for survival they
need to spread to another
host. This is because the
original host may either die
or eliminate the infection.
Some important routes of
viral transfer include:
Route Examples
HPV
Skin contact
(warts)
Cold
virusues,
influenza,
Respiratory
measles,
mumps,
rubella
Polio,
echo,
Coxsackie,
Faecal-oral
Hepatitis
A,
Rotavirus
HIV, HTLV-
Milk
1, CMV
Rubella,
Transplacental
CMV, HIV
Herpes 1
and 2,
Sexually HIV, HPV,
Hepatitis
B
Insect vector Yellow
fever,
Dengue
fever
Animla bite Rabies
CMV - cytomegalovirus,
HPV - Human Papilloma
Virus, HTLV - Human T-
Lymphotropic Virus
Where do viruses reside?
There are several viruses that
have an animal or plant
reservoir from where they
affect humans. Some of the
common reservoirs of viruses
include;
Animal
Virus
reservoir
Birds, pigs,
Influenza
horses
Bats, dogs,
Rabies
foxes
Lassa and Rodents
Hanta
viruses
Ebola and
marburg Monkeys
viruses
HIV-1 and Chimpanzees,
-2 monkeys
Newcastle
Poultry
disease
West Nile
Birds
virus
Treatment of viral infections
Several antiviral drugs that
are used to treat viral
infections have been
developed over the past two
decades. Many of these are
focussed against HIV. These
do not cure HIV infection but
stop the virus from
multiplying and prevent the
progress of the disease.
Another notable antiviral
drug is Ribavarin against
hepatitis C.