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Alphabet Challenge: Viruses

The 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) has caused a stir in the world. Many people are in a state of fear. However, this viral infection isn’t as dangerous as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). It spreads quickly but its mortality rate is not high.

This is an opportunity to learn more about viruses in general. Here are the facts about viruses:

  1. Yellow fever was the first human virus to be discovered. It was identified in 1901 by Walter Reed.
  2. The common cold is caused by Rhinovirus.
  3. Viruses can’t reproduce on their own. They need a host to reproduce.
  4. The word ‘virus’ is derived from the Latin word ‘Virulentus’ which means poison.
  5. Viruses don’t have an organized cell structure.
  6. They are active when they are inside a living cell. Outside a living cell, they’re inactive.
  7. Viruses have no cell nucleus.
  8. They are covered with a protective coat of protein called CAPSID.
  9. Are viruses alive or not? This is a question that is still debatable. Some say viruses are non-living things because they can’t produce on their own without the aid of a host. Also that can’t metabolize food into energy which is another characteristic of a living thing.
  10. They are very tiny.
  11. They are lightweight thus that can float on air. They can survive on the surface of a human’s skin or in water.
  12. Viruses are usually passed from one person to another through shaking hands, through water and food, and through air when an infected person sneezes or coughs.
  13. It is possible for viruses to be passed to humans through animals, food and insect bites.
  14. Some viruses are categorized as zoonotic meaning the viruses can jump from animals to humans. Examples are coronaviruses. 
  15. Sometimes, viruses can attack and kill bacteria.
  16. Some viruses are useful. I know this might be difficult to take in.
  17. Viruses can infect plants, animals, fungi, archaea, bacteria and protozoa. 
  18. Viruses can also infect other viruses. 
  19. Antibiotics are useless in treating viral infections.
  20. Viruses aren’t classified in any five kingdoms of living things: bacteria, protists, animals, plants and fungi.

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