HumansHuman Body

What is a virus?


Have you ever gone to see the doctor because you weren't feeling well and been told that you had a virus?

Viruses are a type of germ; however, viruses are slightly different from other types of germs such as bacteria. Viruses are kind of like little clumps of information. These little clumps of information can exist on surfaces like tables or in the air, but they can't do much of anything until they find a living cell. Once a virus finds a living cell, it injects the living cell with its information and takes over, becoming the germy problem that makes you feel sick!

Luckily, our body's immune system is usually pretty good at recognizing these imposters and helping us to get rid of them. In fact, you might even sometimes be able to avoid getting sick with a virus you've had before or one for which you've received a vaccine because your body will have already learned that the virus is an invader and will get rid of the germs before you even get sick!


Very Viral

What are some kinds of viruses you have had or learned about? One very common type of virus is the flu (the influenza virus) and another is the common cold (the rhinovirus)! The chickenpox is also a virus (varicella zoster virus). Think about some of the similarities between these types of viruses, such as the way the body reacts to having them. Do these viruses tend cause fever? Sore throat? Runny nose? Are they at all similar or different in the way they are passed between people??

Further Information

Like many other germs, lots of viruses travel through the air (such as in sneezes and coughs) or can be picked up from dirty surfaces. Washing your hands often and covering your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough can help you to avoid picking up or spreading viruses and other germs!