Other RNA Virus Families of Importance

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  • 0:05 RNA Viruses of Human…
  • 0:48 Hepeviridae and Hepatitis E
  • 2:16 Salmon and Tobacco
  • 4:13 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson will cover an important historical discovery in the history of viruses, hepatitis E, and how RNA viruses can affect your dinner plate. We'll explore the Birnaviridae, Hepeviridae, and Virgaviridae virus families.

RNA Viruses of Human Importance

Most RNA viruses that you hear of are important to human health because of the terrible diseases they cause, the number of people they affect or both. From HIV and rabies to the flu and common cold, many of these viruses have an RNA genome.

It would be unfair and inappropriate, however, to neglect some less-common or less commonly known RNA viruses that either affect humans or have important economic or historical implications. In the end, both of these effects change the lives of humans worldwide in one form or another.

Hepeviridae and Hepatitis E

For example, you've heard of hepatitis A, B, C and D. However, there's also another hepatitis virus of the Hepeviridae family known as hepatitis E. This is a disease caused by the hepatitis E virus that causes inflammation of the liver. While 600,000 and 350,000 people die every year from hepatitis B and C, respectively, and 1.4 million cases of hepatitis A occur every year, hepatitis E is no less important.

Fewer people die from hepatitis E than hepatitis B and C, but over 20 million people get infected with the hepatitis E virus every single year. That's pretty darn significant. If that's not enough, then you should be aware that hepatitis E is no puny disease. It can cause scarring of the liver, known as cirrhosis, and even liver failure.

This virus is transmitted mainly through contaminated water and typically does not result in a long-lasting, or chronic, infection. This is just like hepatitis A, but unlike hepatitis B and C. A vaccine is available for this virus, but as of this writing, it is limited to use in China.

Salmon and Tobacco

In China and elsewhere in the world, people rely on the production or importation of fish such as trout and salmon to feed their hungry tummies.

The problem is that a virus of the Birnaviridae family known as infectious pancreatic necrosis virus causes some serious problems. This is a highly contagious virus that kills off fish of economic importance, namely salmonid. While this virus is not zoonotic, meaning it can't get a person sick, it has caused tens of millions of dollars' worth of economic damage. This, of course, negatively impacts not only the economy of a nation but the hungry stomachs of its people.

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