The Effects of the Influenza Virus Essay

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Influenza: The Virus and its Effects

Abstract
The flu, properly called influenza, is an amazingly widespread and widely known disease. There are many variations of the influenza virus, differing in severity, but not significantly different in function. The influenza virus infects epithelial cells in the respiratory tract, taking over the cell’s production mechanisms so more viruses are produced, eventually causing the host cells to burst. The body’s immune system tries to combat the infection from succeeding. This internal battle produces many outward symptoms including a fever and dry cough, among others. Influenza is not usually a fatal disease, but its high mutation rate insures its continuing import by allowing it to return in
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An example of an influenza virus is H3N2. (Wilschut 29)
The influenza virus is a rather typical virus. It is roughly spherically shaped but is able to change shape somewhat. The particles rang from 80 to 120 nm in diameter. (Wilschut 29-31) Type A viruses are made of 10 proteins and eight strands of RNA. (USinfo) Influenza viruses are characterized by having an external layer of about 500 spike-like projections. The spikes are either rod-like or mushroom-shaped projections. The rod-like spikes represent the envelope glycoprotein HA and the mushroom-shaped ones are the NA. There are about four times more HA spikes than Nan (Wilschut 31)
The influenza virus keeps reappearing because it can mutate easily. Influenza is caused by an RNA virus, meaning that the DNA is stored in the form of RNA chains, not in DNA like ours (UCSC). RNA viruses have higher mutation rates than DNA viruses. Influenza circulates in the fall and winter months. As the virus travels around the world infecting people the RNA that codes for either the N or H antigen will usually mutate. When the H or N antigen mutates, the bodies antibodies loose their ability to bind to it. Usually either the H or N antigen remains the same so the body has antibodies to one of the two, allowing it to so it will have partial protection to the disease. In this circumstance, the infection will
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