The Ferrari of the Virus World

Structure of the virus that causes the flu
Image courtesy of

There are a lot of different creatures in this world. From the biggest like the blue whale, the hippopotamus, the elephant… until the smallest like a Sumatran fish, ants, bees… However, another kind of creatures lives surrounding us every day. They are even smaller and they are also the most dangerous. You can be afraid of a lion, a caiman, an anaconda or even a group of wolves or a mad dog. You can also be afraid of people from your own species because the evil could be inside any creature. But in the case of this tiny adversary, we could be all afraid because a lot of species have the battle lost against all of them.

This little adversary is not other than a virus: a small infectious agent that can replicate only inside the living cells of an organism. It did not difference if the organism is unicellular or it is composed per multiple cells because its unique function is to replicate itself and with that destroy all around it.

Maybe a lot of people do not know exactly which is the process that the virus uses to do that and they only think that a virus is that thing which makes you feel ill, like the flu for example, and in a few days or weeks you are healthy again. Unfortunately, not all the virus are equal and some are extremely dangerous. Some can kill you only in a few days.

Almost all the virus work in the same way. They infect the cells injecting a piece of their genetic material. The cell could not differentiate the pieces of their own DNA from the fragments of pieces of DNA, or RNA, from the virus so the cell starts to use its own resources to create more virus. They replicate until there is no more space inside the cell, the virus break the cell wall and tonnes of virus escape to infect other cells.

It is like if a thief infiltrates himself inside of a bank and he had access to the money. Each day he could take a few coins to his home until he would have enough coins to pay another thief or, a corrupt employer who can hep him in extract more coins. That process will continue indefinitely until, in the end, that would be more thieves, or corrupt people inside the bank, than money inside the deposit box. It seems that this example that I used it is no so different that our actual reality with some banks, in some countries.

Meanwhile, these thieves in the banks need days or years to destroy a company and to create a huge economic crisis. A tiny virus could make the same in only a few hours and to kill the subject in the process. Everything happens, owing to the fact some virus can replicate faster than the cells. But not all the virus are interested in to kill. Most of them are only like our bank thieves. Unfortunately, their acts could have terrible consequences for the health or, the global economic crisis…

Inside of the virus world, there are a lot of kinds of classifications. For the type of structure that they have outside, for the velocity of

Image courtesy of

replication, for the symptoms they create, for the kind of cells they use to infect, for the mortality they have… Anybody who understands a bit in this could be hours talking about this little dangerous world. Talking about the VIH, the flu, the Ebola…

However, what it caught my attention to write this was another little one: a Norovirus, or best known as the winter vomiting bug. What a “lovely fellow” it is this little thing. You can get exposed to it everywhere and to finish without to cannot go further than one meter of the toilet. Definitely, he is a bada**. And if you have been sick you know why.

But the thing that most captivated me about this virus it was not its structure, its evil symptoms or how many people have been affected this year by it. What it got my attention was this article from BBC. And how the poor “Vomiting Larry” passes all the day throwing away different particles and virus. Seriously, I understand the work of the Professor Ian Goodfellow of the University of Cambridge. And I think that they are making a good work. But do not tell me that to have a dummy vomiting all the day is not nasty and shocking.

It seems, despite all of these investigations, today they have not could find so much information about the virus or how to stop it and one of the only few things that they have discovered is that a Norovirus it is one of the fastest viri in reproduce itself doing it thousand times faster than a human cell.  So, if we make an easily visible example of how fast is one reproduction of another, we could say that a human cell is faster like a Citroën DS and a Norovirus is a Ferrari, the fastest model of this brand that it is in the market.

Well, maybe, that was not a good example but what we could learn in this piece of news from BBC, it is not only more about a particular virus that it is affecting thousands of people each year. What we have could learn, it is that not in all the horror movies with possessed people, who vomit, they are effected for the evil. Maybe, all that violence, spasms, and nasty vomits or other fluids from the movie The Exorcist were only caused by a tiny being: a Norovirus.