Viruses and Bacteria-I found a book on the topic of viruses and bacteria. I like this book because it explains how they make people ill, how they multiply, and gives insight into the work of the WHO (World Health Organization). The name of the book is It’s catching : the infectious world of germs and microbes : Here is an excerpt-
Viruses and Bacteria
May be the smallest of the germs but these tween- tiny troublemakers cause some of the most contagious diseases on Earth! They look like small geometrical capsules. The hard outer shell of a virus is made up of protein that fit together like puzzle pieces while inside the shell is its DNA- the generic instructions the virus uses to make copies of itself.
Unlike other microbes, viruses can’t reproduce on their own – In order to replicate, a virus has to get inside one of our cells and take over its protein making machinery.
How Do Viruses and Bacteria Make You Sick?
If someone broke into your house and started playing with all your stuff and eating all your food you would be pretty angry right ? Well when a virus barges into one of your cells the cell gets mad! In fact, when you are sick with a virus most of your symptoms ain’t caused by the virus itself. Instead they are the side effects of your bodies fight against the tiny invader.
When your body is confronted with a virus different types of immune cells move throughout your body to hunt for the intruder. The cells talk to each other using special molecules called cytokines to say things like “ Send Help! I see some viruses over here! The only problem is that immune cells have pretty loud “voices”- sometimes other cells overhear the conversation and join the fight by becoming inflamed or producing mucus. That’s what causes symptoms of a viral infection. So the next time you are in bed with a cold and a big box of tissues take comfort in the fact that your drippy nose means your body is doing its best to get healthy again.
Get To Know The Great Germs
There are thousands of germs in the world and it’s somebody’s job to keep track of them all. In 1948, the United Nations created the World Health Organization – WHO to its friends. Headquartered in Geneva , Switzerland WHO is tasked with monitoring all the diseases in the world.
Every year WHO publishes a report describing the global morbidity and mortality rates for all the diseases it tracks.
Morbidity is a measure of how many people got sick , while mortality refers to how many of those people died. In the developed world morbidity and mortality rates due to infectious diseases are low.
In other parts of the world, where people can’t see a doctor or a nurse as easily as they can in North America or Europe germs are a much bigger problem.
And, how many germs do the folks at WHO have to keep on top of? Lots! There are almost 2000 infectious diseases that make humans sick. In fact, it’s a true A – Z! The great gem alphabets starts with acanthamebiasis and goes all the way through to zygomycosis. Meeting all of them would take some time. But a few names rise to the top- Here they are – the greatest germs of all.
Great Germs by the Numbers
If you want to be a great gemologist, you will need to learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of different diseases, describe how they transmit , and understand how dangerous they are. Each of the great germs that follow will have a card just like this one.
Know Your Cooties?
Colds and flues both spread through the air and wreak havoc in your nose and throat. But they are caused by totally different viruses. How do you know which you’ve got? If it came on quickly it probably is flu. Flus make you feel worse than colds do – feverish , achy, and nauseated instead of a little grumpy and sniffly.
Look Into My Crystal Ball
Twice a year the disease detectives at WHO make a very important prediction . They have to guess what “disguise” the influenza virus will be wearing in the next few months so that they can produce the correct vaccine to protect people around the world. Making a vaccine takes many months of laboratory work so WHO’s scientist must choose their recipes well ahead of time- in February for the Northern Hemisphere’s winter and in September for winter south of the equator.
How do they know what to put in the vaccine? They have a worldwide network of research laboratories that are constantly collecting the samples from Doctor’ s offices and hospitals . The scientists examine the samples using experimental techniques that give them a sneak peek at the virus’s disguises. Will this winter be a fake mustache, silly pair of glasses, or a new haircut? Who knows? WHO knows!
ONE SHOT TO STOP THE SNOT?
Scientists are working on a universal flu vaccine. Instead of trying to unmask the flu vaccines shifting disguise the universal vaccine will recognize those parts of the virus that don’t change very often. If researchers are successful, the World Health Organization won’t have to guess which flu shot recipe to use each year – one that shall protect people against many different strains of flu.