/* Style Definitions */
mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
Every winter we seem to face a new form of the flu virus, and this year is no exception. Experts have been predicting a severe season, hoping for an early peak, and informing the public as necessary.
The flu is officially known as Influenza, a viral infection. Viruses are microscopic particles smaller and simpler than bacteria. They are so small that until the development of the electron microscope, no one had a clue as to what they looked like. Antibacterial soap and spay will not destroy the virus. Once inside our bodies, viruses reproduce rapidly.
Viruses are fascinating little particles. They consist of small amounts of DNA or RNA within a protein coating. They are the bridge between living things and non-living matter. Viruses can only reproduce their DNA inside a host cell. They do not have a cell membrane or the ability to make energy (taking in nutrients) on their own. hey are also the most abundant biological entity on the planet.
Viruses are extremely diverse and outnumber all other forms of life. They exist in every environment where life is present, from the frozen arctic, to the equatorial regions, from the driest deserts to the ocean depths. They are also found in the harshest environments on the planet, including the hot springs and hydrothermal vents. Our guts may contain over 1000 different viruses.
Viruses have been responsible for the spread of disease since the beginning of civilization. Most of what we know about viruses is due to their ability to affect humans. But viruses are essential to life.
Viruses have the ability to transfer genes across species—an important factor in evolution. But it is this spread of genetic material that makes viruses deadly.
During the next two decades the world population is expected to increase by over 2 billion people. And where people gather, the influenza virus gathers, reproduces, and wreaks havoc among the unhealthy. Rapid population growth diminishes human well-being. As an environmental issue, overpopulation is associated with disease prevalence. The spread of viruses will increase in proportion to the increase in human population. Yet understanding of viruses is only beginning.