Medical Terminology of Major Viruses

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  • 0:45 Herpes Zoster &…
  • 2:19 Epstein-Barr & Cytomegalovirus
  • 3:31 Measles, Mumps & Rubella
  • 5:30 WNV
  • 6:36 Rabies Virus
  • 7:19 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Adrianne Baron

Adrianne has a master's degree in cancer biology and has taught high school and college biology.

In this lesson, we are going to spend some time discussing a few members of the different major families of viruses that affect people. The signs and symptoms will also be discussed.

Viruses

There are numerous pathogenic microorganisms that are classified into four major categories. One category that pathogens may fall into is virus. A virus is a piece of DNA or RNA that can incorporate itself into an organism's genome. Viruses are not considered to be living organisms since they do not exhibit all the characteristics of life. Viruses can be active or inactive. A virus must be active in order to become pathogenic and cause a disease. Inactive viruses are used to create vaccines for viral diseases. We're going to discuss some commonly occurring viral diseases and the viruses that cause them.

Herpes Zoster & Varicella Zoster

Our first two viral diseases go hand-in-hand. Varicella zoster is the virus that causes chicken pox. Just hearing the name of this disease is enough to make some people shudder. Chicken pox is a highly contagious disease that typically affects children. The disease causes blisters to form all over the body. The blisters are itchy and can cause pain in some cases. The virus will become inactive and this allows the symptoms to disappear. The virus then lies dormant in your spinal cord after the disease process stops.

Another disease that a lot of adults fear and/or have horrible memories of is shingles. This disease is caused by the herpes zoster virus. This virus is actually the result of the varicella virus becoming active again while in the spinal cord. This means that everyone that had chicken pox already has the virus for shingles, and it can cause the disease at any time.

The symptoms for shingles include painful rashes that follow the pattern of the nerves in the body. People cannot catch shingles from an infected person, but people can end up with chicken pox from a person infected with shingles. Luckily, there are vaccines for both varicella zoster and herpes zoster. The viruses that cause these two diseases are two of the eight herpesviruses that can cause diseases. Let's look at some other diseases caused by other herpesviruses.

Epstein-Barr & Cytomegalovirus

You may have heard of the kissing disease before. This nickname is given to the Epstein-Barr virus, which is the virus that causes mononucleosis. This virus is also a member of the herpesvirus family. The signs and symptoms seen with this disease include fatigue, sore throat, rash, fever, and swollen lymph nodes in the neck. This disease is easily passed from person to person by kissing, hence the name the kissing disease, or other exchanges of bodily fluids.

Cytomegalovirus, or CMV infection, is an opportunistic viral infection that resembles mononucleosis. It normally doesn't affect otherwise healthy adults. Symptoms may be seen in newborn babies and people that have a weakened immune system. The symptoms in babies include enlarged spleen, pneumonia, jaundice, and seizures. Symptoms in adults can also include behavioral changes, hepatitis, diarrhea, and coma. That covers the herpesviruses that we are going to discuss. Let's look at some other viruses and the infections that they cause.

Measles, Mumps & Rubella

It is likely that your immunization record contains the MMR vaccine. This vaccine is given to prevent three different viral infections. The first one is measles, also called rubeola. The measles virus is an RNA virus that causes symptoms in the respiratory system. The symptoms can include runny nose, cough, red and watery eyes, and a high fever. The last of them to start is a rash that gradually spreads from the head to the feet. Measles is very easily spread through the air when an infected person coughs and sneezes. This infection had been eradicated until its resurgence in recent years.

The second virus that the MMR vaccine protects against is mumps. The most prevalent symptom when a person is infected with the mumps virus is swollen salivary glands under the ears. Other symptoms include fever, muscle aches, loss of appetite, and headache. This virus is most active in the salivary glands and is, therefore, spread through saliva by sharing eating and drinking utensils, coughing, sneezing, talking, and kissing. The viruses that cause measles and mumps belong to the paramyxoviruses.

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