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Viruses are genetic material (DNA/RNA) encased in a protein shell or capsule. They are much smaller than fungi and bacteria. Viruses are not complete cells and require living hosts to multiply. They normally invade your living normal cells and reprogram them so that they can replicate themselves and multiply within your body.

Common Viral Infections

Some of the diseases caused by viruses include the common cold, chickenpox, smallpox, hepatitis, influenza, polio, dengue, herpes, rabies and HIV.

Causes: Viruses can spread from an infected mother to her newborn, across blood, saliva, coughing and sneezing, and through contaminated food and water.

Diagnosis: Viruses are usually diagnosed through blood tests (serologic studies), screening for the presence of antibodies, which your body normally produces in response to a viral infection, and culturing tissue specimens taken from the patient.

Prevention: The best way to prevent viral infection is to get vaccinated. Vaccinations contain a weakened form of a specific virus. These activate your immune system to produce antibodies against that specific virus.

Treatment: Viral infections are difficult to treat as viruses dwell inside your cells and are guarded from the medicines that move through your blood stream. Antiviral drugs are a class of medications used specifically for treating viral infections. Specific antivirals are used to treat specific viruses just like antibiotics are used to treat bacteria.