Virus prevention strategies

6 years ago

V
iruses are capsules with genetic material inside. They are very tiny, much smaller than bacteria.In fact, some viruses known as bacteriophage, can even infect and replicate within a bacterium.

Viruses are like hijackers. They invade living, normal cells and use those cells to multiply and produce other viruses like themselves. This eventually kills the cells, and overtime, can make us sick.

Scientists argue a lot about whether viruses are in fact living organisms or just organic structures interacting with living organisms, because, some properties of viruses make them seem alive, like the fact that they have genetic material and that they make copies of themselves to reproduce. On the other hand, the argument still exists that viruses lack some properties of living things because they do not have a cellular structure, they have no energy metabolism, they do not grow, they produce no waste products, and they do not respond to stimuli.

Viral diseases range from trivial infections to plagues that alter the course of history. They are difficult to treat because viruses live inside our body’s cells, and are “protected” from medicines, which usually move through our blood stream. In fact, because of the enormous variations in viruses, and in their epidemiology and pathogenesis, there is no single, magic-bullet approach to control them. Antibiotics cannot kill viruses.

Viral infections are usually passed on indirectly, by touching contaminated surfaces such as taps, toilet handles, or directly by close contact with an infected person, breathing in the exhaled droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes, touching or shaking hands, touching food with dirty hands, ingestion of contaminated food or water, contact with body fluids such as blood, saliva and semen, which contain the infecting organisms, by sharing hypodermic needles, cuts from sharp objects such as blades, and even via transmission of infected fluids during sexual contact.

Antibiotics do not work for viral infections. However, vaccination, a few antiretroviral drugs, and prevention strategies seem to be the major solutions at the moment. Most viral infections can be avoided if these basic prevention strategies can be adhered to;

Wash or sanitise your hands after shaking, handling money, touching door handles, elevator buttons, light switches, handrails in public places, and handling pets. Frequent hand washing or sanitising can help prevent transmission of illness from infected people.

The hand washing procedure begins with wetting your hands with water and allowing enough antiseptic soap to cover all hand surfaces, rubbing hands palm to palm, washing the back of your hands, and in between each finger. Also, you need to note that hand washing procedures should not be done in a hurry because there is need to allow some time for the active ingredient in the soap to inactivate the microorganism.

On a lighter note, I will suggest that you sing the whole of the first stanza of the Nigerian national anthem through for a thorough hand wash.If you are in a hurry, you can just count 1 to 20.

After washing, ensure that you rinse properly with running water (not in a bowl of water) and also clean thoroughly. Do not clean your hands on your body, clothing or any other material that may be contaminated, so as not to defeat the purpose why you washed your hands.

If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser. Viruses can live on your hands, and regular hand washing can help protect you from getting infected.

Encourage family members to cover their mouths and nose with a tissue when they cough or sneeze, and to dispose of the tissue themselves. No time to grab a tissue? Cough or sneeze into the inside of your elbow, or sleeves of your shirt instead of your hands.

Reduce the time spent in crowded settings if possible, and improve airflow in your living space by opening the windows.

Never touch your mouth, nose, or eyes without washing your hands, and try to avoid rubbing your eyes and nose after shaking hands with someone who has a cold.

Disinfect frequently touched surfaces, and objects such as toys and doorknobs. Also, Avoid close contact with others, such as hugging, kissing, or shaking hands.

Avoid sharing personal items like toiletries, towels and pillows, and teach your kids not to share food, spoons, plates and other things that go in the mouth, as in guzzling water from a plastic bottle or double dipping chips.

Be cautious at buffets. If someone coughs on food or in some other way transmits a virus to food it could then be transmitted to you. Serving utensils, tongs etc. should be readily available for this type of dining. Ensure personal cutlery sets are not dipped into the general dishes.

Wash fruits that are cut, such as melons, pineapple, etc, to avoid transferring any dirt or contamination from the outside of the fruit to the inside during cutting.

The use of condoms during sexual intercourse reduces the likelihood of spreading sexually transmitted viruses such as Ebola, Hepatitis B, C, HIV, etc.

In conclusion, I urge you to imbibe a healthy lifestyle which includes having adequate sleep time, exercise, and eating nutritious foods and nourishing fruits.

Have a splendid weekend.

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