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How do viruses make us ill?

Question by Seaman Ulf | 22/06/2018 at 20:57

As far as I know, a virus consists only of its genetic information, which has been wrapped in a simple protein envelope. Viruses are not living things, they can not reproduce themselves and they do not even have their own metabolism.

Now I wonder how such a thing can make us sick at all. Actually, we should not care about this package. So my question: why can a virus infection make us sick at all? After all, the human body has enough cells, so it should just not matter to one or the other.

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MediMan

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For a virus to multiply, it needs a host cell, which can be, for example, a human cell. Viruses inject their own genetic information into this foreign cell and reprogram the cell so it can produce more viruses.

Of course, humans actually have enough cells, so that one or two more or less cells theoretically do not matter, but of course the viruses do not leave it with the few cells and would continue to proliferate without control, if the human immune system would do nothing against it. A single host cell can quickly produce thousands of new viruses, which in turn can infect new cells.

This is exactly what makes us sick: on the one hand, people no longer have access to important cells themselves; suddenly there are substances in the body that have nothing to do with our own metabolism. Under certain circumstances, functions of the body may be thwarted or impaired and, on the other hand, warded off. Of course, our immune system is against the foreign bodies in our own body. This immunological reaction in the form of fever and other defense reactions also causes the typical disease symptoms.

In addition, of course, it depends on the individual virus that has concretely affected you. Finally, the virus can theoretically introduce any genetic information into its host cell that is possible. This results in a huge variability of harmless diseases, of which we do not notice, to AIDS and worse things. For example, infected cells can also start producing toxins, or molecules that disrupt our bodies, or other substances that interfere with our defense or do something otherwise.

So the basic principle is always the same, what makes us sick but can be very different from virus to virus.
23/06/2018 at 20:25

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