|Bacteriophage SEM image and diagram. (from source above)|
Bacteriophage viruses are quite different from hantavirus, which has a much simpler, almost spherical structure. I'm showing these diagrams and micrographs of a bacteriophage to give an idea of the elegance, of the natural nano-technology at play in a virus' ability to infection and manipulate cells.
Fortunately, those cells are not just waiting to be attacked, the target of infection, the would-be host, will mount an immune response every bit as sophisticated as the viral assault.
When hantavirus invades a human, it is in an environment that it is only partly prepared for. This is probably the reason that it appears to take a significant number of hantavirus virions for infection to occur. It is also likely the reason that the disease causes so much damage to the human organism. Both factors will be discussed more fully in an upcoming post.
Now, of course, we are living in an ever-smaller world, and all of those species are involved in a planet-wide mixing pot of pathogens and people. We will examine some of the challenges that mixing and evolving process is bringing in the field of "emerging pathogens," the sometimes new, sometimes ancient pathogenic species that are continually changing threats to us all.