I have an interest in virology and microbiology. I can help with scientific elements and the qualities that a virus may have. I know about other pathogens as well but my strong suit is viruses :)
lowkey follows this discussion just because
Hello! I hope this thread is still alive, because I am in bad need of general knowledge on this topic–since my story is dystopian/post-apocalyptic and modern medicine is kind of dead ^^;
In a paragraph, is there any stuff you think everyone should know about viruses, viral illnesses, etc.?
And more specifically, what viruses/symptoms would be the most common if everybody stopped getting vaccines and flu shots right now? It's really hard to verbalize my questions because I don't even know the right terminology atm, sorry if this was too vague or confusing ^^;
@Young-Dusty Sorry for not responding sooner but I'll get right to it. All viruses are molecular parasites they need a host to live. Since they are soooo small they have a limited range of what they can do; the bare minimum being duplicate their genes (RNA or DNA) and make a protective shell for those genes. They do this INSIDE of a host cell so they are protected from the host immune systems and chemical agents except for antivirals that specifically target them (some viruses like ebola have genes to shut down defenses the are INSIDE the cell too). Viruses depend on their hosts to make more viruses and also spread those viruses to other hosts (for example sneezing out viruses or being sexually transmitted). The most powerful advantage that the virus has over any other living thing on earth is that they evolve faster than anything else known to man. When they leave a host cell, their "offspring" or duplicated virions may be genetically different. It is in these differences that they adapt to the environment, evade immune mechanisms, and continue to thrive. Through evolution they can be zoonotic, aka, jump from one species to another. For example swine flu. Their high mutation rate is why people have to get vaccinated. One thing to note as well is the concept of immunopathy. Immunopathy is the immune response associated with disease and in some instances it is the immune response that kills the host and not the virus aka an infected person dies from fever. If everyone stopped getting vaccines right now influenza and respiratory syncytial virus would be a huge concern especially for infants. Also something to use in ur story building, mother's milk contains antibodies (proteins that protect against specific diseases) so the mother can pass some immunity she's built up to her child until the child can start making some of their own. Polio would return (some virsues dont go away just because no one whose vaccinated gets sick; they can still hang out in the environment until someone without immunity gets infected). Also measles and variants of it would run rampant. Rabies would become way more terrifying again. Diphtheria would also emerge again because it is easily prevented with a vaccine (diphtheria is NOT a virus FYI it is a bacteria they targets the nose and throat). Maybe last piece of info that I'll leave you with (i dont want to overwhelm you too much ), elder berries have been shown to help the body fight off Influenza virus and only influenza virus. Just consuming them has antiviral properties. I hope this was a helpful starting point and if you need more info do not hesitate to ask. I'll try to respond sooner :)
lowkey follows this discussion just because
Thank you so much! This is all fascinating and very informative, I'm taking notes of everything :) I will come again if I have any more questions!
@Young-Dusty happy to help :)
Also on thing I wanna add that may come up in your story is that some people are immune to certain viruses. A popular example is HIV immunity. Some people's immune systems and other host cells are diverse enough to prevent a virus from entering their cells. If the virus can enter, then it cant replicate. If your world has little to no healthcare then these would be the population of people the would survive a pandemic. However, viruses aren't that easily foiled so new strains may arise because of this. Generally, these people may be useful characters to utilize in your story.
That's a really good point, I didn't think of that! Thank-you, I'm kind of excited to bring that into my plot now XDD
Hello! this is an old post, but id like to know:
1- can a virus survive in human saliva? How long?
2- how fast can a virus mutate? What is one of the fastest mutating diseases?
I know I'm not the op, but I am studying public health so I can answer these.
- Yes. Depends on the virus. A few examples: Measles can last outside the body for 2 hours, Rubella for almost a whole day.
- Incredibly quickly. It's not really about how fast it mutates. It's about what mutations occur, if that makes sense. Influenza, for example, mutates very quickly, which is why we have to come out with a new vaccine every year, and why they don't always work. Most mutations are either disadvantageous to the virus or have a neutral effect, but occasionally, after all these mutations, there may be one that gives the virus and advantage.
If you have any additional questions, let me know.
Ah! that makes sense! The character in question is a villain who has a virus that lives in their saliva. They store up their saliva into canisters for combat. About how often would he have to "replenish" his stocks? (due to virus dying out in older collections.
That’s tricky… honestly, it might be good to instead have technology that can keep the virus alive or dormant, if your setting allows it. Again, depends on the life of the virus.
Potato the cat, some viruses can be perserved in cold environments. Since viruses dont metabolize, some can be frozen in ice for many years/centuries and when they thaw out they can still have their ability to inifect. Some viruses like Influenza are surronded by a bubble of fat/lipids which they stole from their host cell. This bubble is called an evelope and can make the virus much more delicate ie generic soap can destroy the envelope. Generally, all viruses have a protien shell called a capsid. This shell is much tougher than the envelope. Even though the virus can be perserved in ice, thawing and freezing the virion too many times may damage the virus to the point where it "dies" or is no longer functional. Thawing and freezing to damage a pathogen is one method of attinuation. So from what you told me, the villain could freeze the canisters and then unthaw them when ready to use, but refreezing may not be a good idea. Depending on how you want to make ur story, it would be plausible that the villain would not have to replace the canisters as long as they stay cold and dont get thawed and refrozen too much. Also to add a little more detail to your first question, when hundreds of copies of the virus leave a host cell, in general that process is called shedding. An infected person can shed virus from their saliva for as long as their infected. One example is mono / kissing disease / Epstein-barr virus.
Oh! this is really cool! I think I'll use this in my story, thank you so much!
The shedding information is incredibly useful as well, considering he is basically permanently infected with the virus. :)