Viruses can’t survive without a living host and are even smaller than bacteria. A virus attaches to living cells and reprograms them to replicate themselves. Unlike bacteria, most viruses do cause disease despite using the host to replicate itself.
Some virus-caused diseases include the common cold, AIDS, herpes, and chickenpox. Viruses are generally highly virulent and infectious.
What is a virus?
“When a new phenomenon like virus multiplication comes to be studied, almost all the knowledge of cellular chemistry and function gained from other types of study turns out to be irrelevant.”
“A virus is not an individual organism in the ordinary sense of the term but something which could almost be called a stream of biological pattern.
The pattern is carried from cell to cell by the relatively inert virus particles, but it takes on a new borrowed life from its host at each infection”.—Sir Frank Macfarlane Burnet, who went on, to win the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1960. Quote—Scientific American, February 1957
The 202 coronavirus outbreak hit amid flu season in the northern hemisphere and even doctors struggled to distinguish between the two – the overlap in symptoms probably contributed to slow detection of community infections in some countries, including Italy.
Typical flu symptoms, which normally come on quickly, include a high fever, sore throat, muscle aches, headaches, shivers, runny or stuffy nose, fatigue and, more occasionally, vomiting and diarrhoea.
Doctors are still working to understand the full scope of symptoms and severity for Covid-19, but early studies of patients taken to hospital found nearly all of them developed a fever and dry cough, and many had fatigue and muscle aches.
Pneumonia (lung infection) is common in coronavirus patients, even outside the most severe cases, and this can lead to breathing difficulties. A runny nose and sore throat are far less common, reported by just 5% of patients. The only real confirmation of having Covid-19 is taking a test though.
Most people aren’t protecting themselves adequately – but can you?
For instance, it’s always tempting, to buy one of the many hand sanitizers claiming to “kill 99.99% of illness-causing germs”, but that does not mean the product will protect you against coronavirus. Alcohol-Free Hand Sanitizers sell out, regardless of not being recommended by the CDC as effective.
Hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol are recommended when unable to wash your hands. Huge pumps and multipacks of bottles fly off store shelves, yet “alcohol-free” products—which are not recommended by the CDC—also get snatched up in the consumer frenzy.
For instance, alcohol-free products were selling out in February/March 2020 as sometimes it can be hard to tell, just by looking at the listings, that they’re different from the kind the CDC recommends or not.
Purell hand sanitizing wipes for instance, jumped in price repeatedly from $11.88 in January 2020 to nearly $200 just two months later! This according to the price tracker Keepa.com. and were sold out by early March 2020. The front of the package didn’t mention that it was alcohol-free.
So most of what you see is “hype” anyway, and what isn’t is likely conjecture or presumption based on past experience. Herein lies a concern. Sometimes we forget our common sense – good nutrition, sleep and self care are all imperative.
When do you get infected?
Most infections happen in families, where people live at close quarters. You need to be within one to two metres of somebody to be infected by viral-loaded water droplets from their coughs or when they are speaking.
However, it would be possible to pick up the virus on your hands from a surface that somebody with the infection had touched. The virus can linger for 48 hours or even possibly 72 hours on a hard surface, such as the hand rail in the tube – though less time on a soft surface.
That is why the advice is to wash your hands regularly and avoid touching your face, to prevent the virus getting into your nose, mouth or eyes. Maybe even wear examination gloves.
Regarding prevention of viral disease, we’ve all been told (repeatedly);
Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds because it’s one of the best ways to kill or remove micro-organisms from your hands and prevent the spread to others. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth because if you picked up the virus, you could infect yourself by allowing the virus to enter your body.
Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash, or sneeze into your elbow.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
Stay home when you are sick.
Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Keep a distance of at least 3 feet (1m) from someone who is coughing or sneezing.
Is this enough – no – but it’s all most people can do anyway.
Doesn’t it begin to illustrate how many other pathogenic and infective particles both dead and alive we breath in on our way to work. What about exhaust fumes, diesel fumes, the list goes on. Let me go on with the virus story.
Anyway, what is a virus, we keep getting these, should I worry? – ‘is resistance futile?’
So how many of you watch Star trek? Do you remember how nanoprobe virus technology was developed by the Borg Queen in order to assimilate the human race after two failed attempts (“the Dunkirk spirit and all that”)? In this case the plan involved detonation of a bionic charge in the Earth’s atmosphere in order to infect all life forms, primarily humans.
The plan was for the infection to work so slowly as to not alert anyone before it was too late. Even after many of USS Voyager’s crew became infected (assimilated) all ended (relatively) well as the ‘Command Hologram’ sprang into action and saved the day.
“Hooray” – mind you this is science fiction. However, viruses are not. SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 is not, and neither will the next one be.
I’m going to be very impractical here. I believe that most people have no idea of the speed with which our world is travelling (Google, Amazon, Apple, those involved with 5G, etc. probably do.)
While I think that technology is clearly the driving force, we have many other factors awaiting release including financial, social, political, belief systems, knowledge, biological, pharmaceutical, etc. [the list goes on], and it is upon many of these factors the technological explosion will impact.
Mass infections are not unknown and public health measures have done as much as for cure as vaccination.
Throughout history, millions of people have died of diseases such as bubonic plague , cholera or the Black Death, which is caused by bacteria, and smallpox, which is caused by the variola virus.
In recent times, viral infections have been responsible for two major pandemics: the 1918-1919 “Spanish flu” epidemic that killed 20-40 million people, ebola, and the ongoing HIV/AIDS epidemic that killed an estimated 1.5 million people worldwide in 2013 alone.
In the past, crowded conditions, poor health, sick people often unaware of their infections. Changing these things have helped enormously. When children come down with something at school (not that you want to see it but) it may strengthen the immune system.
Working and being stressed anyway does not put you at your best when it comes to resistance! Illness is a balance between host resistance and disease virulence. Viruses are virulent.
So ask if you can work from home, even if part time, prove you can get as much or more done! Do you like working at home?
That’s what this site was all about originally, developing a lifestyle where you’re not so dependant on all the ups and downs of life.
Avoid the plague on the train, the bus, or the pollutants on your commute. Avoid people at the office who don’t look well or who are stressed! Just remember how in each of these upcoming infectious epidemics that we will experience regularly, need or want delivery at home whether its goods, services or even education.
If you like the idea of working at home, look at your options and click below.
Dr. Stephen Bray 2020