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Fether

How do epidemics/pandemics stop?

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1 hour ago, Anddenex said:

If a virus is a living thing, then it should be able to be killed off like any other living thing

This is where your confusion lies. Viruses are not living things... now that is as far as my knowledge goes, they are something else though.

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5 minutes ago, Fether said:

This is where your confusion lies. Viruses are not living things... now that is as far as my knowledge goes, they are something else though.

I believe you are mistaken.  They are microorganisms.

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3 hours ago, Grunt said:
3 hours ago, Fether said:

This is where your confusion lies. Viruses are not living things... now that is as far as my knowledge goes, they are something else though.

I believe you are mistaken.  They are microorganisms.

This is pure semantics, a matter of definition. But the arguments behind those definitions are interesting and contain actual substance.

On the one hand, viruses have no real life processes. At all. They cannot even so much as reproduce themselves. They have no organelles at all, nothing but a simple protein coat that holds their tiny strand of DNA or RNA, all enclosed in a bilipid sac that the virus took from the cell wall membrane of the host cell that made it. And the largest virus is quite a bit smaller than even the smallest bacterium. So by most traditional definitions of life, which include processes like reproduction and respiration, viruses are definitely not alive.

On the other hand, viruses contain DNA and/or RNA, which is sequenced and used to reproduce more identical viruses. When a virus is doing its thing, it certainly looks just exactly like life, the only difference being that the virus is hijacking someone else's equipment to reproduce itself and carry on the respiration needed to do the work of reproduction. Viruses do reproduce, then, in a sense. They evolve. They prey on other life. In these aspects, viruses look very much like a life form.

Personally, I tend to edge toward the "alive" side of things. You and I cannot be alive without the organic milieu of our existence, the oxygenated air and water and food and gravity that keeps us on the planet. We can't produce our own sugars or many of the vitamins we depend on. Remove us from our physical context, and we will immediately become just about as alive as the virus appears to be when it's just floating there. That's us. The salient difference is that we do a lot (certainly not all) of our own reproductive and respiratory work, while the virus outsources that responsibility to its host cells.

Edited by Vort

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3 hours ago, Fether said:

This is where your confusion lies. Viruses are not living things... now that is as far as my knowledge goes, they are something else though.

Just read an article specifying viruses are more like androids -- I assume if someone is a Stargate fan -- replicators. I have a hard time though accepting this seeing that the moment they come in contact with a living cell they then are able to multiply.

They consider them to be in an inactive (no living cell) state or an active (when they come in contact with a living cell) state. I would think this is a typical science fact until further knowledge is obtained.

Edited by Anddenex

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On 1/27/2020 at 3:13 PM, Anddenex said:

Joking/Kidding/Poking aside, the one thing I don't understand about virus' is the inability to kill them like we kill bacteria.

To add to the good information Vort pointed out, viruses are microbes.  

Scientists disagree as to whether or not they are non-living or living, but I lean towards non-living (though cases can be made for either viewpoint).

The cell is the basic unit of life.   Viruses are much smaller and don't form a cell.

The reasons that viruses can't be killed with antibiotics is because you can't kill something that isn't alive (or at least that isn't alive in the sense that we think of it).  A virus has to be disassembled by your immune system before becoming chemically inactive.  

Simplified, viruses are DNA or RNA float around (or are transferred around) before landing on a cell from a living organism.   The virus then releases genetic material and the host cell then reporduces the virus.

The human genome itself is about 8-9% virus (viral DNA).  If I remember correctly, from previous conversations you don't believe in evolution(?), but if you did, some retrovirus were inserted into our ancestors DNA millions of years ago and became part of human genes.  Some are inert and some can cause things like cancer.    That's what it is meant when you hear about some of the cancer genes that people get tested for.

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One method of a epidemic and pandemic stopping that hasn't been mentioned yet is that the disease sometimes stops on its own or at least can become less potent and less deadly.   

For example, the strain of Yersinia pestis that likely caused the Black Death during the Midieval period is likely to be extinct. All plague victims from the Midieval period that have been studied in modern years have a different strain attributed to them as the strain existing today.  It is thought that the strain itself mutated into a less deadly form for its own survival.    If the bacteria was so successful in reproducing that it killed off all the hosts, it would have wiped itself out by eliminating all potential hosts.  Once its main hosts began to be wiped out, it mutated into such a form that was less deadly as to assure its own survival.

The scary thing about this is that there is no scientific reason why the bacteria couldn't remutate into the more deady form that was present during the Black Death.    Of course now days there are anti-biotics though, so the results on the human population would be far less deadly.  

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13 minutes ago, Scott said:

If I remember correctly, from previous conversations you don't believe in evolution(?)

Yes and no. At its core evolution is simply a change of alleles. I believe in that simple definition as my children are evidence of a change of alleles between my wife and I. I also accept what is now determined/defined as micro-evolution.

I don't accept what is now determined/defined as macro-evolution.

>>>>>>>>

I read some different articles pertaining to viruses, and they were intriguing to read. One example given was likening a virus to a stone. The only thing though a stone doesn't replicate/multiple when it comes in contact with living cells.

If something can replicate, cell divide/multiply, then it must be living (IMHO). I can understand why then the concept of inactive vs. active would be a better description according to what we now know. A stone, which isn't living will not replicate no matter how hard we try once it connects with a living cell.

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45 minutes ago, Anddenex said:

If something can replicate, cell divide/multiply, then it must be living (IMHO).

Just an FYI, but a virus doesn't cell divide. A virus never grows nor does it consume any type of food.  It simply "floats around" until it sticks to or enters a host cell.  The infected cell (not the virus) is what replicates the virus after recieving the DNA or RNA contained in the virus.      The host cell merely replicates it.     

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3 hours ago, Scott said:

Just an FYI, but a virus doesn't cell divide. A virus never grows nor does it consume any type of food.  It simply "floats around" until it sticks to or enters a host cell.  The infected cell (not the virus) is what replicates the virus after recieving the DNA or RNA contained in the virus.      The host cell merely replicates it.     

Let me clarify with a question, if the cell (which is hi-jacked) doesn't divide will new viruses replicate?

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54 minutes ago, Anddenex said:

Let me clarify with a question, if the cell (which is hi-jacked) doesn't divide will new viruses replicate?

With harmful viruses, usually a cell can't divide after being infected.  Some viruses only attack cells in the process of dividing though.

Viruses aren't spread by the infected cells dividing, but the cell either breaks down or "explodes" (because it is overloaded with virus copies), which send virus copies out all over the place.  Those copies float around until hitting another cell to infect.  That's why you get sick.  When you have a cold and cough up or have a nasty runny nose, a lot of that stuff is made up of exploded cells.

Exploded cells serve as food and breeding ground for bacteria, so sometimes a viral infection can make way for a bacterial one.

Edited by Scott

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39 minutes ago, Scott said:

With harmful viruses, usually a cell can't divide after being infected.  Some viruses only attack cells in the process of dividing though.

Viruses aren't spread by the infected cells dividing, but the cell either breaks down or "explodes" (because it is overloaded with virus copies), which send virus copies out all over the place.  Those copies float around until hitting another cell to infect.  That's why you get sick.  When you have a cold and cough up or have a nasty runny nose, a lot of that stuff is made up of exploded cells.

Exploded cells serve as food and breeding ground for bacteria, so sometimes a viral infection can make way for a bacterial one.

How does a virus know it has come in contact with a living cell?

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7 minutes ago, Scott said:

Chemical reaction, when a virus lands on or passes through a cell wall.  

This then goes back to my original question, why haven't we discovered the catalyst to the chemical reaction. Stop the chemical reaction it can't replicate. If it can't replicate and we stop its chemical reaction then its potency is now gone.

Much like throwing a Mentos into a Coke bottle. Remove the catalyst to the chemical reaction and a Mento will be no different than throwing a stone in a Coke bottle. We have the viruses to continue testing what sparks the chemical reaction.

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10 minutes ago, Anddenex said:

This then goes back to my original question, why haven't we discovered the catalyst to the chemical reaction. Stop the chemical reaction it can't replicate. If it can't replicate and we stop its chemical reaction then its potency is now gone.

We can for some virus.  We know of many ways to stop catalyst for some viruses.  Unfortunately many of them also stop essential cell functions.  Getting rid of the virus without killing the cell is the tough part.  For some viruses we can do that though.

Keep in mind that there are many viruses that cause the same sicknesses.  There are hundreds of different types of viruses that cause the common cold, for example.

The most effective tool and defense against viruses are our own bodies.  That's why inoculations are so important.

Our bodies are quite effective in destroying most viruses, but sometimes the virus still "wins".

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Just a little "on the ground" update: 

As most of you might know, my wife and I have hosted exchange students from China these past two years. We are still in contact with both kids, and we use WeChat to talk with them. Both are fine. Jason, the second one we hosted, said that that virus was "more transmissible" than SARS, but not as deadly. He told us not to worry about him or his family, and that everything was fine. 

Edited by MormonGator

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We haven't had a pandemic that ordinary people have had to worry about since WW1 (look up the Spanish flu).  Keep your eye out, if only vulnerable people are dying then don't stress.  The Spanish flu was a problem because it specifically targeted healthy people in the prime of their life--which just isn't something viruses normally do.  Add to that poor science: people relied on unproven things to stay safe.  I would say there will be heightened awareness for the next few months, some talk over the year, and then will die out, just like SARS, the swine flu, the bird flu, ebola, and west nile virus (I'm sure I'm missing more from the past couple decades).  They stop because people either develop a vaccine (they're working on coronavirus right now), and/or people most easily exposed to them become immune.  For every person infected you need at least 2 or 3 people to catch it or the virus will start dying out, coronavirus apparently might be BARELY at that rate, which puts it in the category of what-else-is-new .  I'm not a scientist, this is just stuff I found online, I had the same concerns, and I listened to both sides, including the ones that really believed we weren't being told the whole story, but I'm siding with those that aren't worrying.  This really is a great time to be alive, past President Gordon B. Hinckley lived through the Spanish Flu, Depression, and two World Wars and I think that's why he would say that all the time.  But I recommend using this as an opportunity to remember the important things in life and make sure you have supplies on hand in case of another far more likely emergency (unemployment, storms).  You will know if a virus has become a big deal because there will be travel restrictions and signs everywhere and the US President will have no hesistation imposing things that could hurt his re-election because he'll be in trouble either way.  Talk of it won't exist merely in sections online.

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So I found this app on forbes, coronavirus dot app.  In the article I found with it, worst case scenario artificial intelligence says 2.5 billion infected and nearly 53 million dead by March 16.  March is apparently about the time it is expected to die down. But that would be if they are unable to contain it and if conditions don't change, which they have.  Numbers to watch out for: they predicted about 50,000 infected 1000 dead by today--and that's probably not happening, it's a little over 31,000 infected and over 600 dead right now.  I'm not liking that number, but it's definitely improving.  A week from now we'll see if it's over 208,000 infected and over 4,000 dead as predicted.  I'm not sure if the flu is the best thing to compare it to as the mortality rate for the flu is pretty low compared to those infected.  The flu doesn't kill 2% of everyone it infects, it takes several thousand to get a death.  But it's not comparable to the Spanish flu as that killed 15% of everyone it infected.

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On 1/29/2020 at 9:00 PM, Anddenex said:

This then goes back to my original question, why haven't we discovered the catalyst to the chemical reaction. Stop the chemical reaction it can't replicate. If it can't replicate and we stop its chemical reaction then its potency is now gone.

Much like throwing a Mentos into a Coke bottle. Remove the catalyst to the chemical reaction and a Mento will be no different than throwing a stone in a Coke bottle. We have the viruses to continue testing what sparks the chemical reaction.

Is it a chemical reaction? My understanding is that the body of a virus is is made up of a bunch of reactionary proteins that activate upon contact with a cell, sort of like a mouse trap. Its more machine than organism. It has no organelles, no locomotion, no sensory input nor output. They're basically self replicating spring loaded traps that float aimlessly until brushing up against an infect-able cell.

Most single celled organisms have some sort of defense against viruses. There are enzymes within the cell plasm that break apart the foreign RNA strands before they are taken to the nucleus. Usually a cell is able to handle a few viruses, but not if it gets hit with a few hundred of them at a time. An infected cell will end up producing more viruses than were used to take it down.

Is there a way to prevent the virus from activating upon contact? That I'm not so sure. I'm pretty sure the reaction is purely physical. And I imagine that discovering a way to destroy or deactivate the proteins viruses use, might also have a negative effect against the trillions of proteins your own immune system utilizes. It seems to me that the most effective method of disease prevention foreseeable by any microbiologist yet remains vaccination.

Viruses are enormously abundant, more than any other type of microbe. You better be grateful for that fact. If it were not so, this entire planet would turn septic in a matter of hours. There is just this small minority of viruses that attack humans and animals that we have to worry about.

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1 hour ago, NeuroTypical said:

Unless you and/or yours are one of them?

Keep an eye out on them, but panicking and stressing out helps no one. 

99% of the things society panics about go nowhere. Are you (generic) still afraid of Y2K? Did you (again, generic) learn anything from it? Obviously not, because you (generic, generic, generic) are still panicking about things in 2020. 

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9 hours ago, Moonbeast32 said:

Is it a chemical reaction? My understanding is that the body of a virus is is made up of a bunch of reactionary proteins that activate upon contact with a cell, sort of like a mouse trap. Its more machine than organism. It has no organelles, no locomotion, no sensory input nor output. They're basically self replicating spring loaded traps that float aimlessly until brushing up against an infect-able cell.

I could easily be misunderstanding the meaning behind what I have read, for example, "Unlike human cells or bacteria, viruses don't contain the chemical machinery (enzymes) needed to carry out the chemical reactions for life." (emphasis mine)

Chemical reaction is "a process that involves rearrangement of the molecular or ionic structure of a substance."

Viruses use the chemical reaction of cells to replicate, or the chemical machinery they themselves do not have. Again, I could be wrong in how I am understanding and reading it.

9 hours ago, Moonbeast32 said:

Viruses are enormously abundant, more than any other type of microbe. You better be grateful for that fact. If it were not so, this entire planet would turn septic in a matter of hours. There is just this small minority of viruses that attack humans and animals that we have to worry about.

 

It is the small minority of viruses I am referring to that do not appear to be like the common cold (which are different viruses) that cause human harm/deaths/injury/etc...

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3 hours ago, Anddenex said:

 Viruses use the chemical reaction of cells to replicate, or the chemical machinery they themselves do not have.

Ok, I get where you're coming from now. Still, putting a stop to this process would be impossible without also putting a stop to all other functions of a cell. The virus itself doesn't function, it is completely passive. It instead takes advantage of the functions and reactions of its host cell.

Inside a cell, enzymes withdraw threads of RNA from the bank of bundled up genetic code called the nucleus. The enzymes then read the strand and perform the encoded function. The strand is copied, and then sent back to the nucleus. Viruses infect the cell when their own DNA gets intermingled with the Cells DNA inside the nucleus. Eventually it will get withdrawn, and the mindless enzymes will begin assembling viruses. Can you see how there would be no way to put a stop to this process?

I could be wrong, we discover more groundbreaking things about the microscopic world every day. Still it doesn't seem likely at all that any sort of catalyst or something could be designed that would prevent the cell from reading viral DNA in the midst of the trillions of identical cell DNA.

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23 hours ago, MormonGator said:

Are you (generic) still afraid of Y2K? Did you (again, generic) learn anything from it?

 

How Y2K came an went without anything more disastrous than the movie Entrapment:

  • ~4-10 years before the event companies started noticing that future events (such as graduations and card expirations) were scheduled to happen 96 years ago. Some specialty shims were written for the code.
  • ~2 years before the event, companies had the prescience to realize this would affect a lot more things and started looking for complete, systematic fixes over their entire code base.
  • COBOL (and other seemingly obselete) programmers were paid a premium and pulled out of retirement to patch things up.
  • ~1 year before the event, companies sent out patches to their code consumers to fix code that had been released to production.
  • Companies upgraded their systems based on the patch dependencies
  • ~3 months before the event, consumers were encouraged to change the date/time on their computers to verify that all necessary patches had been applied and the system would work Jan 1, 2000.
  • The night of the event, tech workers were in office or on call monitoring their web sites and tech stacks.
  • Jan 1, 2000 12:05 AM, tech workers cheered loudly when their systems didn't crash
  • Jan 1, 2000 12:45 AM, consumers drunkenly mash keys on the keyboard and shake the mouse and let loose a silly grin since the computer still works.

What I learned from it was that when a known disaster is just on the horizon, experts get to work on a solution, inform the public on ways to mitigate the risk, and a conscientous public applies those recommendations. Do this and there's little panic, little looting, little chaos even when the disaster is at its peak. Don't do this, and you roll the dice.

Applying safety measures and risk management are not panicking, nor are they the results of panic. I would argue that in many ways they prevent panic.

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