What is a virus? A virus is simply an infection that replicates itself within a host cell. Unlike a bacterium, virus cannot grow or multiply without aid from an external factor. Viruses can infect many types of living organisms, such as plants, animals, and even bacteria. They are generally classified into five main families:
The envelope virus is the most common type of virus and is also known as the common cold virus. This is a very simple virus and is not nearly as contagious as others. It replicates by enveloping in a protective covering such as the skin or mucous membranes. Envelopes viruses can cause serious illness when the proper precautions are not taken.
The herpes simplex virus (HSV) is responsible for approximately 80% of all reported cases of cold sores. This is caused by a strain of a virus called the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). These strain can be contracted through any contact with the affected area, including oral, anal, and vaginal sex. An additional form of the herpes simplex virus (or a strain) can cause outbreaks in which there are blistery blisters accompanied by fever and body aches. The virus particles can be shed from the infected area and enter the bloodstream.
Nucleic acid viruses are made up of DNA or RNA strands. There are two different forms of the virus, each having different characteristics. Some forms of the virus are retroviruses (reversion). The first virus to be discovered was the hepatitis virus which infected about 50% of the world’s population at one time. Another form of the virus is the herpes simplex virus which is responsible for approximately 80% of all reported cases.
Not all viruses are dangerous to our bodies. Some forms of the herpes simplex virus can be treated by medications. If the virus replicates within the host, it is known as a pathogenic infection. For example, the agent that causes tularemia, a disease that infects millions of people, cannot be treated with a medication, but can be cured with a vaccination. The tularemia virus is responsible for causing the red rings of death that sufferers of the disease experience. However, the virus does not become pathogenic until it has infected a host.
The herpes simplex virus is responsible for approximately 25% of all documented cases of genital herpes. Although the herpes simplex virus is responsible for the majority of cases, other viruses can also cause outbreaks. The best prevention is to avoid contact with these viruses to ensure the virus does not become pathogenic.