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Understanding viral infection

Understanding viral infection
March 19
16:44 2020

Pandemics have occurred in the past and continues to increase in frequency, the latest being the COVID-19. The present scenario demands for optimal preparedness and response strategy in order to contain the disease which has crossed geographic regions. Viruses, bacteria and fungus are the micro organism which confers immeasurable benefits to us. However, when they become pathogens, treatment becomes imperative. The latest updates on the Corona virus calls upon humanity to introspect and move from a mechanized life towards a natural one.

Dr Monjuri Kataki


Dr Monjuri Kataki writes in depth about viral diseases and the measures one need to take to curb the menace.

The recent outbreak of Corona virus pandemic across various countries and finally reaching India calls for a greater awareness drive among the people to adopt healthy and hygienic methods and lead a disease free life.

The medical importance of virus lies in their ability to cause a very large number of human diseases. Viral diseases range from minor ailments such as common cold to terrifying diseases such as rabies or AIDS. They may be sporadic like dengue fever or pandemic like influenza. They may be localized to circumscribed areas like some arbovirus diseases or occur worldwide (like herpes simplex). The control of bacterial infection with antibiotics has opened a path for viral infections in human disease. Virus can cause cancer in animals and birds, as well as in humans.

The manner in which the infecting virus spreads from the point of entry and multiplies in different sides and causes lesions in target tissue was first studied using mouse pox. Virus infection causes primary viremia and secondary viremia and affects the target organs. Incubation period represents the time taken for the virus to spread from the sight of entry to the production of symptoms. Several factors determine incubation period. The incubation period may be shorter (5- 6) days or longer (10- 20) days. Certain virus has a longer period of incubation i.e 2-6 months. Virus can be diagnosed by Electron microscope, RIA, ELISA and nowadays real time PCR use has increased the sensitivity of diagnostic test.

Presently Corona virus infection is the foremost thought in our mind. Being a novel (new) virus strain little is known about its properties. Studies undertaken all over the world will gradually help us to know the different characteristics of the virus which will make treatment easy and a vaccine feasible. The need of the hour in our country is developing a strong immune status, preventive measures and good personal hygiene. The importance of hand washing cannot be under rated as an effective mechanism to stop viral transmission. The correct technique of hand washing should be spread from the lower ignorant strata of the society to all the other sections. There is still a long way to go for the production of a Corona virus vaccine. Hence we need to focus more on rural health and public health centers.

Social distancing is the most effective measure for preventing transmission. It is the practice of reducing close contact between people to slow the spread of infections or diseases. Social distancing measures include limiting large groups of people coming together and cancelling events. We can avoid group gatherings, sleepovers, play dates, concerts, theatre outings, athletic events, crowded retail stores, malls, workouts in Gym, visitors in your house, and non – essential workers in your house or mass transit systems. We can use caution while visiting a local restaurant, visiting grocery store, going out, picking up medicines, playing in the park, visiting the library and while traveling. It’s safe to take a walk, go for a hike, yard work, play in your yard, clean out a closet, read a book, listen to music, cook a meal, family game night, go for a drive, go for video chats, stream a favorite show, check on a friend,  or check on elderly neighbour.

The medical community with cooperation from the higher authorities is working sincerely round the clock to combat this new deadly virus. The public should also follow precautionary and safety measures as circulated and cooperate with the health care professionals to prevent infection and casualty. This will help us to combat this new virus strain and slow down its progression for the benefit of the mankind.

(The author is an Associate Professor at Dept. of Microbiology, Gauhati Medical College and Hospital)

Features Image Source: Hospital & Healthcare Management


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