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Definition of viral infection

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

Viruses are one of the best known sources of infection, grouping around 200 pathogens that can affect humans. Among them are agents that cause temporary symptoms and discomfort and without major repercussions, such as the flu, and others that can seriously compromise our health and well-being, such as the human immunodeficiency virus or HIV .

These types of agents act in a specific way in the body, triggering a reaction that will lead to the symptoms of the condition in question. In this FastlyHealarticle we explain in detail the definition of viral infection and the way in which pathogens act in the body.

Viral infection concept

Viral infection is understood to be any of the diseases caused by one of the approximately 200 viruses that are pathogenic to humans . Some of them are the most contagious and dangerous diseases known, others cause mild and transitory disorders that go virtually unnoticed.

How do viruses work in the body?

The disease occurs when cells are damaged by virus attack. The first step in the viral cycle, after entering the body, is the attachment of the virus to a sensitive cell and its absorption by the cell. Next, the penetration of the virus nucleic acid into the parasitized cell occurs, at this point this uncoupled virus does not produce symptoms. The virus begins to mature inside the cell and, carrying its own genetic information, begins its replication using the blocks of chemical material and energy available in the parasitized cell.

At this point, the virus has already taken possession of the cell. After a variable period of time, masses of fully developed virus appear capable of surviving outside the cell until more susceptible cells are found. In many viral diseases, such as mumps , chickenpox, and measles , an attack confers permanent immunity, in others the immunity is short-lived.

The incubation period for viral infections is short, viruses do not circulate in the blood, no antibodies are formed and, in most cases, no immunity to them develops.

How long does a viral infection last?

In most cases our immune system has the ability to fight against the viral infection and eliminate it in a matter of days or weeks, this depending on the pathogen and also on the general state of health of the affected person. However, there are cases in which the virus can remain active in the human body for years even without showing signs of its existence, manifesting itself after a long time to the surprise of the patient. The herpes virus , hepatitis B and C, and HIV are some examples of these types of infections.

Is there a way to prevent viruses?

Although there are about 200 agents that can cause viruses, there are also several ways to prevent the most common and also some of the most dangerous. Some good recommendations to avoid viral infections are:

  • Maintain good hygiene, especially with regard to hand washing. After sneezing, before eating or after handling objects susceptible to the presence of viruses, for example articles that come into contact with the saliva of a sick person, it is very important to wash your hands well with soap and water for at least 30 seconds. which will help eliminate infectious agents.
  • Following the vaccination schedule will also help prevent the appearance of viruses especially common in childhood such as chicken pox, measles, mumps or hepatitis. Other conditions such as influenza or HPV can also be prevented thanks to timely vaccination.
  • Sexually active people should also use a condom to avoid the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, among which two important viral infections stand out: HPV or human papillomavirus and HIV or human immunodeficiency virus, the latter potentially fatal.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Definition of viral infection , we recommend that you enter our Medical Dictionary category .

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