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Microbiology Term Paper

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    I chose to write my topic paper on the H1N1 virus. This virus has interested me since its reemergence in 2009. Its ability to change and adapt each time it shows up again attracted my attention. I hope to inform people about the virus along with the symptoms and how to go about avoiding it if you can, or treating it if you have it. This pandemic is avoidable through a simple vaccine that can be taken as a shot or as a nasal spray. Overall I find the H1N1 virus to be interesting and a puzzle that the doctors and scientists of today have to figure out.

    The swine flu, also known as H1N1 Virus, is a common virus that has been plaguing the human population on and off since the early 1900’s. Each year during flu season, people become sick with these flu’s that cause respiratory illness. Scientists have to come up with new medicines in order to treat these viruses each year. This is due to the fact that the viruses keep changing every year and become immune to past treatments. According to stopgerms. org, “A new strain of influenza A (H1N1) virus that is a mix of swine, human and/or avian influenza viruses has recently been reported that is contagious and spreading from human to human. Where did this virus come from, and how do we plan to treat it? The virus itself has been present in our population for a very long time. Although the normal flu virus is treatable through medicines prescribed by our doctors, these new strains of the virus (such as H1N1, H2N2, or H3N8) have different surface glycoproteins that make treating them very difficult. These changes on the surface of the viruses are called antigenic shifts. According to virology. ws, “There have been six instances of antigenic shift since 1889.

    In that year, H2N2 viruses circulated, followed by H3N8 in 1900, H1N1 in 1918, H2N2 in 1957, H3N2 in 1968, and H1N1 in 1977,” with the latest antigenic shift being in 2009 with the H1N1 virus. This shows the emergence of the H1N1 strain of the virus was in 1918. The reason that these were major pandemics back then was because of the lack of treatments. The virus was unchecked as it spread throughout the population causing mass death. There are treatments available now that can alleviate the effects of the virus and save the lives of those infected by the swine flu.

    The H1N1 virus cannot be treated by the use of antibiotics. Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections and issues and are therefore useless when fighting a virus. However there are ways to alleviate the pains that are caused by the virus. Common symptoms of the H1N1 virus include: body aches, cough, diarrhea, sore throat, vomiting, chills, fever, fatigue, runny nose and headaches. Common over the counter medicines can be used to treat fever, vomiting, and other symptoms of the virus. Although these over the counter medications may cause temporary relief, they cannot cure you of the virus itself.

    The best way to prevent contracting H1N1 is by getting the vaccine that is developed before flu season. Each year scientists create a new vaccine for the incoming flu. As mentioned before, the flu changes every year which means that scientists have to engineer a new vaccine that will prevent the contraction of a virus that hasn’t even made an appearance yet. According to virology. ws, “Each pandemic strain carries HA and NA proteins that have been absent in humans for many years, and therefore immunity is either very low or nonexistent. This is why so many people are affected by the flu each year. Scientists believe that the current H1N1 strain is the same strain that was seen in 1950. “…it is possible that the 1950 H1N1 influenza virus was truly frozen in nature or elsewhere and that such a strain was only recently introduced into man (virology. ws). ” This is because through genetic mapping scientists were able to find that the current virus has similarities to the strain seen in the 1950 pandemic. The strain that is affecting us now is believed to be a combination of a few influenza viruses.

    Because it is so diverse, it causes issue in finding a vaccine that is truly effective. Although there was a vaccine made, many people did not take the vaccine because of the adverse side effects that came with it. The side effects of the flu shot include: “Soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given, Fever (low grade), Aches, and Nausea (cdc. gov). ” There is also a nasal vaccine (called LAIV) for the swine flu. Side effects in children include: “runny nose, wheezing, headache, vomiting, muscle aches, fever (cdc. gov). Side effects in adults include: “runny nose, headache, sore throat, cough (cdc. gov). ” Although none of these side effects are overly dangerous, many of them are the same as what you would actually experience if you were to contract the H1N1 virus, however the virus itself can lead to death by respiratory failure if left untreated. According to cdc. gov, “People who have a severe (life-threatening) allergy to chicken eggs or to any other substance in the vaccine should not be vaccinated. ” The best way to avoid becoming sick and possibly dying is to get the vaccine.

    The vast majority of infected people can overcome the effects of the H1N1 virus. People who are at risk of serious medical problems are those whose immune systems are weak due to a few common factors. The elderly along with young children, pregnant women, and people with immune system ailments are at a higher risk of dying from the H1N1 virus. This is because they are less equipped to overcome the effects of the virus. Although the vaccine is the best way to prevent the spread and/or contraction of the virus, there are other ways as well.

    The first of which is to wash your hands often. This prevents the spread of germs from touching everyday objects such as door handles or television remote controls. Also try and avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and nose with your hands. All three of these places are membrane and can cause easy transmission of viruses. The most obvious way to avoid getting sick is to avoid the people who are already infected. Although it is not always obvious, you can usually tell if someone is not feeling well.

    As of today the H1N1 virus is no longer considered a global pandemic, however yearly flu shots should be taken in order to prevent another global outbreak. “The U. S. Public Health Emergency for 2009 H1N1 Influenza expired on June 23, 2010. On August 10, 2010, the World Health Organization (WHO) International Health Regulations (IHR) Emergency Committee declared an end to the 2009 H1N1 pandemic globally (cdc. gov). ” As is seen in this quote, the degree to which this virus had escalated affected the entire world for a little over a year.

    Thanks to the spread of knowledge on how to prevent this virus, the pandemic ended and now people are able to treat themselves and their families. Although the virus is no longer considered a pandemic, it is still affecting countries throughout the world. The following link (http://www. rafflesmedicalgroup. com/h1n1/h1n1-global-updates/h1n1-global-updates. aspx) contains a list of the countries that have been affected by the virus along with the number of confirmed cases and death cases since July 3, 2009. H1N1 Virus Morphology

    Above is a picture of the H1N1 virus. The picture shows the structure, both inside and out, of the virus. The protrusions on the outside of the lipid envelope are the glycoproteins Hemagglutinin and Neuraminidase (Sialidase). These glycoproteins are what make the virus so hard to treat. They also make it difficult for the body to fight it which is why viruses are so difficult to prevent. Also seen in the picture is the nucleoprotein (RNA) center. This center contains the genetic information that the virus injects into the host cell that it infects.

    This center is surrounded by a capsid layer and then a lipid envelope. In conclusion, the H1N1 influenza is a virus that is both treatable and avoidable. All it takes is a vaccine and some minor adjustments to a person’s day in order to keep these viruses from turning into pandemics. The virus itself is untreatable once you have it, instead you have to go after individual problems. You simply have to endure it until your body fights it off. There are over the counter ways to treat some of the symptoms that go along with the virus, however they will only provide temporary relief.

    The virus itself is no longer a global pandemic, but it can still reappear if we are careless and do not take proper precautions in the future.

    Works Cited

    * “Origin of Current Influenza H1N1 Virus. ” Virology Blog. Web. 29 Apr. 2012. <http://www. virology. ws/2009/03/02/origin-of-current-influenza-h1n1-virus/>. * “H1n1: Swine Flu. ” Stop Germs Healthy Homes Disease Prevention StopGerms. org. Web. 29 Apr. 2012. <http://www. stopgerms. org/documents/h1n1. html? gclid=CK2e_eLQ2q8CFQm0nQodLHboCA>. * “How Is Swine Flu Treated? ” WikiAnswers. Answers. Web. 29 Apr. 2012. <http://wiki. nswers. com/Q/How_is_swine_flu_treated>. * “General Questions and Answers on 2009 H1N1 Influenza Vaccine Safety. ” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 29 Nov. -0001. Web. 29 Apr. 2012. <http://www. cdc. gov/h1n1flu/vaccination/vaccine_safety_qa. htm>. * “H1N1. ” Affected Countries. Web. 29 Apr. 2012. <http://www. rafflesmedicalgroup. com/h1n1/h1n1-global-updates/h1n1-global-updates. aspx>. * “Molecular Expressions Cell Biology: The Influenza (Flu) Virus. ” Molecular Expressions: Images from the Microscope. Web. 29

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