Remember all those times when you ended up having a cold, even though you weren’t exposed to a cold environment? This is the work of viruses. Even though viruses are not visible to the naked eye, they are super harmful to the human body.

FUN FACT: Viruses are smaller than bacterium, so even a bacterium can’t spot a virus !!

Due to its the small size, it is able to infect the bacteria and even the cells of our body. Unlike the bacteria, the virus has no cytoplasm, nucleus or any other thing that could make it fall under the category of a cell. The virus has a DNA surrounded by a protein sheath and fats. Hence, they cannot be considered as an organism.

FUN FACT: Viruses float in the environment and are dead outside the host, but once they come in contact with a host, they become living and reproduce(multiply) !!

Once inside, these viruses hijack the cells of the organism by entering through the cell membrane. Once they do, the virus takes over the cell machinery and forces it to make viruses instead. The poor cell unknowingly begins manufacturing an army of the virus, till the entire cell is infected. This poor cell does this till it explodes, and the produced viruses are released which now infect the other cells.

This is how an infection spreads.

Our body is also clever enough to deal with such a situation. Whenever we fall ill due to a viral infection, our body makes a special cell called as the memory cell. This cell stores the information about the virus and how it can be defeated, so the next time, when the virus attacks, our body’s immune system is ready to destroy them; hence, saving us from the infection again.

FUN FACT: Did you know that the antibiotics do not work on viruses. This is because antibiotics are made to fight against bacteria !!

In your body, the most common virus found is a bacteriophage, which infects and destroys bacteria.

Let’s have a quick check for understanding about viruses:

Q1. The worldwide pandemic (Covid-19)going on is due to

a)virus b)bacteria c)fungi d)none of the above

Q2. The viruses and bacteria are almost of the same size.

a)True b)False

Q3. Outside the hosts, what is the status of the virus?

a)living b)non-living c)cycles of living and non-living

Q4. What is a virus made of?

a)genetic material b)protein c)fats d)all of the above

Q5. Our body produces certain cells called as  _____ which remember the viral infection and next time the body is _____ to fight the viral infection again.

a)memory, prepared b)memory, unprepared c)none of the above

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