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Entry #2: The Poliovirus

Posted 11-28-2009 at 10:38 PM by BeanMarine
Updated 11-28-2009 at 10:42 PM by BeanMarine
It's easy to get lost in the juiciness of the turkey meat, the fluffy, cloud-like texture of the mashed potatoes and salty-concoction-of-flour-and-fat counterpart gravy, but it's important to remember that Finals (yes, I said the forbidden word) are just a week away.

So, in the spirit of the holidays, my blogpost will be about Polio, which has absolutely nothing to do with turkeys or mashed potatoes (unless they happen to have fecal matter in them), but is simply the virus that I am studying at the moment.

Hopefully you'll enjoy this educational read. I don't suppose it's everyday you learn about a virus that's capable shutting down your body within a span of 24 hours.

Poliovirus is a simple naked virus in the shape of an Icosahedron. Naked doesn't mean that the Virus enjoys streaking through parks or dancing scandalously along poles, it means that the virus has no Enveople. No barrier shrink-wrapped around its shape and form.

It's the Causative Agent for Polio, the disease that FDR was bedridden with and what eventually drove him to establish The National Foundation of Infantile Paralysis.

Polio has been around since Ancient Egyptian times. Uncovered Hieroglyphics depict individuals with withered arms and legs--but Polio didn't become an Epidemic Disease until the early 20th century when people cared more about Sanitation.

Think about it. In underdeveloped areas, infants are raised in shockingly unsanitary conditions. In the fun and social playpen, infants share toys together, share germs together, and ultimately share fecal matter together.

Infants will contract Polio from ingesting each other's feces, but the disease rarely gets as bad as a Cold. Most infants recover from the Polio infection and get life-long immunity to boot.

Now ship yourself over to Developed Areas, where infants are raised under Sanitary (almost sterile) conditions. With parents spraying lysol on every surface imaginable, infants will never contract Polio. They will never come close to ingesting another person's fecal matter...

Until they enter Highschool.

We all remember PE, and, if you're like me, Swimming was your favorite part of that more-or-less useless class. We all know about people letting themselves go and peeing in pools, but did we ever pay any mind to poo? Flakes of fecal matter are just as likely to be floating around in the pool.

After being raised in a sterile cell, children end up contracting Polio during the School Years, where the chances of the disease advancing to something much more severe is 10 times more likely to develop.

So what can we learn from this? Stop spraying lysol in everything and go play in dirt. (But really, don't take my advice. Remember, I'm just a student cramming for an exam)

Now that you're wondering whether your last trip to the pool might have given you Polio, let me first tell you what symptoms you may/may not be displaying.

95% of infected people will display no symptoms. The virus in the oropharynx might give you a sore throat.

In 5% of infected individuals, the polio virus will enter the lymphatics and gain access to the blood stream, where it can infect the liver, spleen and lymph nodes. They will display cold-like symptoms.

In 1% of the cases, the polio virus will cross the blood-brain barrier and infect the meninges. Symptoms include pain spasms in the neck, back, arms and abdomen.

Now in the brain, polio now has the opportunity to infect motor neurons and cranial neurons, where they can effectively induce muscle weakness and shut down your breathing.

1% of infected individuals

The swiftness with which Polio takes over the body is chilling. Within hours, a person can go from displaying no symptoms to respiratory arrest.

Polio works by first injecting its RNA Genome into the host cell. From there, it takes over the host cell's machinery to make more duplicates of Genome. Eventually, Polio shuts down the host cells initiation factors that allow the host cells mRNA to bind to its Ribosomes. This means that poliovirus has all the ribosomes to itself.

With all the ribosomes at its disposal, Polio can now make 100,000 virus particles within 6 hours. These virus particles then lyse the Host Cell and infect more host cells.

As stated before, one of the symptoms of Polio is respiratory arrest. Those nifty steel barrels you see are called an Iron Lung (Drinker Respirator). The Iron Lung works by alternating pressure inside of the chamber to manually push and pull the patient's lungs. Unfortunately, most people using an iron lung will die from pneumonia because of eventual loss of their cough reflex.

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  1. Chesters's Avatar
    I learned something new.

    But I didn't have any mashed potatoes or gravy this Thanksgiving. Disappointment.
    Posted 11-29-2009 at 12:18 AM by Chesters Chesters is offline
  2. BeanMarine's Avatar
    Glad to be of service !!! I will be covering Influenza and HIV/AIDS when I get the chance. Microbiology Final, here I come!
    Posted 12-05-2009 at 01:09 AM by BeanMarine BeanMarine is offline
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