Understanding viruses: What research has taught us and how we can protect ourselves

Jan 19, 2024 | 0 comments

By Garnett Stewart

Ecuador has a viral influenza season. It usually runs from August to March. This year, several friends have had mild or severe flu. The majority were unvaccinated. The vaccinated persons had a 3-to-5-day milder case. Non-vaccinated people endured 2 to 3 weeks. I think all vaccines save lives, and many assume you won’t become sick. Wrong! The vaccination may save your life. Herd immunity may prevent any illness. Influenza kills many seniors or disabled persons each year.

A Denver-area neighborhood had a pertussis outbreak 10 years ago. Twelve kids perished. I believe the youngsters come from anti-vaccine households. When one mother begged for pity, I ended her tirade by saying the world was great and fair. You choose not to vaccinate and must live with it. Without vaccination, the mother’s kid contracted an uncommon condition. The sick child infected other kids since they were not immune. After learning what happened, many anti-vax non-users changed their minds.

The health department in Ecuador (Ministerio de Salud) distributes all immunizations in Ecuador at several sites. Not all locations offer vaccines.  Cuenca headquarters off Huayna Capac, next to Museo Pumapungo, and the Military Hospital in Parque de La Madre are the most convenient immunization sites. Go early!

Pharmacies also provide vaccines. My favorite drugstore, Eloy Alfaro, supplies $15 yearly flu vaccines, and Roberto Benavidez administers great injections. I avoid crowds for my health and used Roberto to immunize me.

  • Are your Covid Boosters current?
  • Have you had your yearly flu shot?
  • Ever had pneumonia vaccine? Is it appropriate after 60 or later?
  • What about RSV?

I am pro-vaccine since I cared for unvaccinated folks till their deaths. As a novice nursing assistant, my 30-year-old female patient died from chicken pox, and her caregivers were sick too. This was before the chicken pox vaccination. Her doctor and I spent hours at her bedside. Two more perished from her chicken pox and I was sick for 15 days. Three 1970s deaths might have been prevented with the vaccination. Herpes pneumonia was formerly fatal but now just 2/3rds of its victims die.

Viruses are nucleic acid molecules with protein coats and are too tiny to view under a standard microscope. Viruses rely entirely on a host, where they can multiply. They die if the host cells die.

Under an electron microscope, SARS-CoV-2 had a 50-140 nm diameter. Streptococcus bacteria are oval-shaped and range from 0.6 to 1.0 μm in diameter. Nanometers are 1,000 times smaller than micrometers.

Bacteria are 1,000 times bigger than viruses. As said, viruses lack nuclei but include amino acids for replication. They employ the host for food and waste materials. Most viruses dwell in bacterial cells, making them harder to avoid. After infection, both germs are very small and difficult to eradicate.

Bacteria, plants, and mammals may contract viruses. Internal parasites, viruses thrive on host cells. To exploit the host cell processes, viruses have devised many methods.

Although very technical, the 1999 National Institute of Health 1999 article Virus-Host Cell Interactions offers excellent information about viruses, citing authors from reputable websites.

The medical field of virology studies and maps viruses. Parasites only live in the host cell and can die or infect another host if the host cell dies. Host cell death from this exploitation may contribute to virus-induced illness. Animal viruses have become better understood in recent decades and recent discoveries have improved our understanding of the viral genome’s structure and makeup. We also learned about the viral growth cycle.

Understanding the growth cycle lets you increase viral production or halt it.

I think many people underestimate viral growth laboratories. China has growing facilities for many pathogens including viruses. To improve drugs, we investigate bacterial and viral colonies. Virus “plantations” are grown in countries with lower infection control requirements than the U.S. and Europe, such as China. These infection control methods are expensive; thus, China offers a cheaper “plantations” with weaker standards. China never intended to bring the coronavirus home to their families, but it did two decades ago. SARS is a coronavirus. The early coronavirus produced a pandemic in Asia and beyond. The fourth generation of Covid caused the 2020 pandemic.

Many conspiracy theorists accused China for the fourth coronavirus pandemic. I see no conspiracy. I consider human mistakes and avarice. They didn’t plan to make anyone ill. Their laboratory shower may have failed to be sufficient in removing the virus. They may have touched their faces with infected gloves. They may have gone home in scrubs. Pharma businesses need bacterial and viral species. To study chemical impacts, we need colonies. Today’s antibiotics and antivirals derive from these compounds. China has lower requirements and expenses; thus, Big Pharma employs Chinese research specimens. Today, this trend persists. I observe no major response to change this process. Big Pharma will continue to use the best economical choices.

Results of viral penetration into cells fall into numerous categories:

  • Productive infections harm host cells and propagate viruses. When host cells survive, they can replicate and generate new viruses, causing chronic infections.
  • Persistent infections often result from latent viruses, possible creating “never cure” situations. Virions, the virus’s carrier molecule, can be unnoticed but cause sickness.
  • The genetic union between viral and host cell DNA causes oncogenic infections. They marry and procreate. Both married and changed their DNA. This makes treating them tough.
  • Abortive infections occur when a virus alters cell’s chemistry, killing them.

Example: Influenza. A virus infects cow cells productively. The DNA barrier in mouse cells prevents RNA synthesis. This influenza is not under study in mice. The host cell determines viral status. Second unrelated viral infection can have serious consequences.

Most illnesses were treated with antibiotics between the 1950s and 2000. As antibiotics only kill bacteria, a second consequence has taken place. Antibiotic use has generated multiple drug resistances. Due to its 1920s wartime infection mortality reduction, penicillin was deemed a miracle and field fatalities dropped 500-1000%. Despite its significance, penicillin-sensitive species have declined dramatically. This is the result of overuse. This is “drug resistance”.

Virus growth and survival in virology research is still a problem. Finding the reason of cell death is the objective. Killing cancer cells with poisons and toxins is chemotherapy. Normal cells are damaged collaterally. Certain DNA and RNA viruses can directly modify gene expression by altering the host cell genome. Changing the host’s gene expression can be lethal to the host.

Host cell nuclei must form new cells. If full of parasitic viruses, cell reproduction can be terminated. The host dies. However, many cases of the infection linger. New cells must replace the dying ones.

Multiple viral kinds exist. Some are poxviruses, such as polio, herpes, picornaviruses, alpha-rhabdomyoma viruses. Paramyxo-, Papova-, retroviruses. Herpes, paramyxo, orthomyo, reo, rubella, and rabies adenoviruses. Herpes, Flavi, lenti, pox, and coronavirus also fuse cells, a paramyxovirus trait. Some viruses form colonies from infected and healthy cells. These invaders include coronavirus. Its protective shell allows it to communicate with cells within and outside its host.

Cell death processes are often obscure. Does the cell surface accept viral attachments? The subject of virology is continually evolving due to viruses and their effects and evidence suggests that herpes, polyoma, retro, and adeno viruses can only replicate in cells with viral enhancer recognition components.

The viral reproduction cycle research has led to several scientific discoveries. After the electron microscope was developed and utilized for cellular teaching, new possibilities emerged. This microscope revealed several new cell areas. Energy and invasive components of each cell now have names and locations.

Consider tumor cells: direct research of chemotherapy chemicals is now feasible, whereas before we relied on empirical evidence to determine efficacy. Survival rates for cancer are generally higher than before. Tumor viruses and the transition of healthy cells into cancer cells are crucial components of contemporary oncology.

Despite the fact that viruses do not cause most malignancies in people and animals, retrovirus research has improved cell function knowledge. And these discoveries enhance cancer outcomes.

Future posts will cover various infections. Corona will be covered. Classic flu again. Only a few antivirals work. Chinese and naturopathic medicine offer remedies.

Please be well.

Permanent resident Garnett Stewart lives in Cuenca, Ecuador. She is a retired Adult Medicine Nurse Practitioner who specialized in Cardiology and Cardiovascular Surgery and wrote numerous publications. Her nursing degrees are both Bachelors and Masters. Biochemistry and biophysics were her undergraduate majors and a Nursing Bachelors was required before the Masters. Contact Ecuador.advice@gmail.com please and not privately. I am keeping statistics of responses and data.


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