The Sars Virus: Background Information and Data Analysis

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The SARS Virus: Background information and data analysis

Henry Brown, Rugby School
Summer 2003

Introduction

SARS is a virus. Generally, they are only visible through an electron microscope. Viruses are not generally considered a living organism. Instead they are parasitic. They remain dormant outside of the host body, and if one happens to get inside the body, it can spread rapidly. It relies on the host’s cells to replicate. A good example is the influenza virus, which infects the throat. The virus ‘injects’ it’s DNA strands into the host cell, which displace the cell’s normal DNA. The cell, instead of carrying out normal functions, replicates virus cells which when a certain point is reached, literally burst the cell and spread to surrounding areas.

The host body produces anti-bodies to fight viruses. The same effect may be produced by an injection of dead or heat-treated virus cells to trigger the immune system to produce anti-bodies. However, certain viruses (like influenza) mutate at such a rate that the old influenza combatant anti-bodies cells may not work. Whether SARS is going to mutate rapidly is as yet unclear. Scientists believe it will take at least two years of ‘seasonal’ infections to find out. If so, scientists will have to ‘predict’ how the virus might change and develop preventative vaccinations accordingly.

The World Health Organization (WHO) noted on 16 April 2003 that the coronavirus cause SARS. At the time, however, several countries refuted this claim, as an article on the BBC plainly makes out, “Scientists from eight countries, including Germany and the United States, found it was not consistent with any other known virus. They also carried out genetic tests on the virus, which found it was “only distantly related” to known corona viruses.” However, as the same BBC article points out, “Researchers at the University of Hong Kong said a new genetic sequencing of the SARS virus proves conclusively that it came from...
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