Virus: What is it?

A virus is a tiny, non-living organism. It can infect other living organism like bacteria, plants, and animals. By doing so, they cause different diseases and sometimes the infection can lead to death of the living organisms. Like human bodies, viruses do not contain cells and hence if they have to grow and develop, they have to find a host cell. Most viruses consist of the following three parts – a chemical structure that carries information about the virus, a protective shell around it, and an outer envelope. While different from living organisms, the only similarity between viruses and living organisms is that they both carry the chemical structures of genetic information (DNA and RNA in living organisms, RNA is viruses). In order to multiply, the virus first enters a living cell and then hijacks its machinery. The virus then makes multiple copies of itself within the living cell. After multiplication, the cells burst and the viral particles spread to the other cells. Sometimes while creating multiple copies, the information carried by the chemical structures can change leading to what is called mutation in which case finding a treatment becomes difficult. SARS, Influenza virus, and n-COVID 19 are some examples of viruses which affect human beings. The recent n-COVID 19 virus had infected animals in the past and through a live animal market in China, it has infected human beings.

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