The Hidden Killers: Deadly Viruses
Virus Basics
Military Uses

Virus Basics

This is where students will read what a host is, how viruses infect, types of infections, and what exactly is an infection. The reading is technical, so there are guidelines given in ThinkLink to help sort through the most technical reading. General understanding is the goal. Each section is short. This is a GED activity.

Have students take notes, on paper, while they read. This will help students to sort out the main points of each section. Note taking experience will help students in a job, in college, even in the doctor's office. If students can learn to take notes that pick out the main points of information, they will have a useful tool in life. Discuss note taking and its value. Printing out the student guide and the directions below would be helpful for the student to have in hand while working on the site.

Discuss each section. Have groups report on each section. Challenge the students to choose the most amazing bit of information they read. Make a list of these facts on a poster and hang it on the wall. Have the students draw a picture of the most amazing fact. The response and involvement of the students is important.

  • Click on the above link.
  • Click on the small yellow word, Enter, at the bottom of the page.
  • Click on Virus Basics
  • There is a small box, to the right, which is the Table of Contents. Click on The Host.
  • Read the four paragraphs, The Host .
    There are three main points.
    1. There are three types of viruses: animal, plant, and bacterial.
    2. Viruses are picky about the cell they want to infect, the host cell.
    3. The virus has to be able to attach itself securely to the host cell in order to infect the cell.
  • Click on the small yellow words, next page, at the bottom of the page.
  • Read the one paragraph, How Viruses Infect.
    There are three main points.
    1. A virus can lie dormant indefinitely.
    2. A virus injects it's own DNA, genetic makeup, into a host cell. The host cell becomes a virus manufacturer.
    3. Host cells are generally killed. However, sometimes they are not killed, but they are so damaged, they soon die.
  • Click on the small yellow words, next page, at the bottom of the page.
  • Read the one paragraph, Types of Infections.
    There are three types of infections.
    1. Acute infections which are harmless and do little damage to the cells.
    2. Chronic infections which may not damage the hosts, but interfere with their functions,illnesses and diseases return again and again.
    3. Latent infections continue for a long time and often cause disease that kills.
  • Read the next section, three paragraphs, same page, What's An Infection? Read ONLY the third paragraph. This tells the basic story. If more information is wanted about DNA and RNA, that will be found in paragraphs one and two.
    There are four main points.
    1. Viruses pour their own genetic material into the host cell. The host cell can't produce what it needs to live and it produces what the virus needs to live.
    2. One host cell can produce many new virus cells.
    3. The fastest virus only needs 24 MINUTES to begin producing new virus cells.
    4. Cells are damaged and destroyed with each new active and mature virus cell.

These basic terms and concepts are used in the follow up movie, Outbreak. The term, host, will become real, in this movie. Understanding that viruses infect in different ways is real in this movie. The horror of a mutating virus will be more understandable, in the movie, after reading this section on Virus Basics. Viruses are truly awesome.

Click here for equivalent page for students.

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