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What Is The Deadliest Pest? It’s Not What You Think

May 1, 2020
What Is The Deadliest Pest_

What do you think of when you hear the term pest? Most of us think of insects, rodents or other wildlife critters that may be considered a nuisance. But what if the term pest went far beyond what we see to what we don’t see? When it comes to the deadliest pest, it’s not what you think and that’s because it’s a virus!

What Is A Virus?

Viruses are often associated right alongside different forms of bacteria but did you know they are actually quite different? Generally, a virus is much smaller than bacteria; functioning much like a parasite because it needs a host cell to fully operate. Without the living cell of an organism, the virus cannot replicate itself let alone thrive. Teetering on the boundary of what is considered life, viruses contain key elements that make up all living organisms such as DNA and RNA but on the other hand, they lack the capacity to function on the information contained within these nucleic acids. Therefore, a virus is an infectious agent that can only replicate inside the living cells of an organism.

They can be found within all forms of life including animals, plants, bacteria and archaea. Unseen by the human eye until 1931, the electron microscope was developed by German scientists Ernst Ruska and Max Knoll, allowing scientists to discover how viruses actually operate; providing us with the knowledge of viruses that we have today.

Why A Virus Can Be Deadly

Viruses have the potential to threaten human life because of the nature in which they operate. Infecting cells within the human body, they replicate and reproduce, creating more viral material than the cell’s genetic material. If the virus is left to do its dirty work, the host cells will eventually die and the virus is left to spread to nearby cells, restarting the process. Thankfully the human body has ways to fight against viral attack. Things such as the immunity system work to identify viruses and produce antibodies that bind to the virus and leave it unable to function. The immunity system also releases T-cells which kill the virus. A host cell can also initiate RNA interference if it detects a viral infection which decreases the influence of the virus’s genetic material in relation to the original cellular material.

Unfortunately, some viruses overpower the immune system; allowing them to evolve more rapidly than the immune system can keep pace with. This allows for uninterrupted reproduction of the virus’s genetic material and the spread of the virus. Some viruses, like HIV, even have the ability to trick the immune system. So, this leaves us with the notion that if the virus has the ability to overpower our cells and ultimately take over, our bodies are subject to sickness and disease that could potentially take our lives.

The Fatality Stats For Viruses

The fatality stats worldwide over the past 50 years varies from .02% in 2009 for H1N1 to 80% in 1967 with the most deadliest virus being Marburg. The second deadliest was Nipah in 1998 with a fatality rate of 77.6% followed by Hendra in 1994 at 57%. The Sars virus, which is a virus current generations are more familiar with, had a fatality rate of 9.6% in 2002 and the Mers virus in 2012 with the fatality rate at 34.4%. The Ebola virus sits at 40.4% in fatalities worldwide in 1976. As you can see, the death rate for each virus varies because of the nature of the virus. Taking in technology, healthcare, economics and generational dispositions is also necessary when understanding the impact viruses have on human life.

Covid-19 is a current concern worldwide as this virus, that attacks the respiratory, is still threatening lives as it continues to circulate around the world. Being that it is a new strain of the Corona-virus, medical personnel and scientists are still learning and seeking new information on how this virus impacts the human body and what can be done to treat it. Currently we know that the virus can be killed on surfaces with proper disinfectant methods and that keeping your hands washed, not touching your face and keeping your home clean and disinfected will help prevent the virus from spreading.

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