Dear Journal,         I have just found out something incredible! There are DNA viruses and RNA viruses! The difference between them is that they use different nucleic acids to achieve their goal. Some DNA viruses are herpesvirus, papillomavirus, and parvovirus. Some RNA viruses are HIV and Hepatitis viruses. The RNA viruses are also called retroviruses. With the RNA viruses, they undergo a sort of “reverse transcription” where the RNA is converted to DNA.  The DNA viruses go through the lytic and lysogenic cycles like normal. It seems also that retroviruses can best be treated with medication, and DNA viruses are best treated with vaccines.        I have also discovered that viruses aren’t always horrible and nasty. They can be altered to provide a cell with genes that are beneficial to the user. This is a great discovery! As long as the virus still behave regularly, we can use this knowledge to provide gene therapy to our patients!       It’s been fun exploring the world of viruses. I am glad that I have made new breakthroughs in this field. Hopefully this information is very useful in the future. I am going to try to push the topic of gene therapy into the next board meeting. It should be a hit! As always, this is Dr. Krasinski.We need to be careful, America! In 2014, Ebola spread to the United States, a viral infection that originated in West Africa. Whenever the illness entered Dallas, people were worried. We need to watch out. While Ebola is the least of our concerns at this time, we need to be prepared for any viral infection to come our way. This is why it’s important to be vaccinated. Why vaccinate?     Well, for starters, you would be less likely to catch a virus if you take it. And guess what? They are quick and easy! Go to your local doctor today to get a vaccine. Another important aspect to treatment is medication! Stay up to date with what is floating in the air today so that you don’t get it tomorrow.     I have two children at home, and I do not want them to get any viral illness. For children and the elderly, viral infections, can be deadly. I feel that it is my duty as a mother to be vigilant for the safety of my kids.     Kids aren’t the only ones at risk. Watch out for your pets! They can get the flu from you, and they can also give it to you. This is why it is important to take your pets in for a checkup.    The more informed you are about the topic of viruses, the more likely you are to have a healthy and safe virus season. Remember, it is always better to be safe than sorry, so get prepared today! A virus contains nucleic acid and a capsid. The nucleic acid can be DNA or RNA and they both can be single or double stranded. The capsid is a protein coat. Some viruses also contain an envelope, or a lipid bilayer. These components create a bacteriophage, which is the vessel that viruses spread.      Viruses reproduce using the cell that they are connected to. This occurs through the lytic and the lysogenic cycles. The lytic cycle begins with a bacteriophage attaching and piercing through a cell. Then, it injects its DNA into the cell. As the cell goes through transcription and translation, the virus DNA tags along. Phage virions are assembled inside the cell, and then they lyse or burst out of the cell to attach to more cells.       The other cycle is the lysogenic cycle. This reproductive method starts the same way, with the virus attaching to a cell and injecting its DNA. The virus DNA actually inserts itself into the chromosomes of that cell, where it hides out. The cell will replicate like normal, with the virus DNA hiding the whole time. The cells can enter both cycles, and so eventually cells in the lysogenic cycles enter the lytic cycle, resulting in a viral takeover.      This year, the flu seems to be an emerging viral threat. People are advised to receive their flu shot and to practice good hygiene habits. There are four different variations of the flu (2 versions of Influenza A and 2 of Influenza B) so it’s best to be on the safe side this flu season and to get a flu shot.        A severe influenza outbreak occurred in 1918, where a strain of H1N1 killed healthy adults. This was a devastating attack, considering that this happened in the same time period as the first world war. These adults were diagnosed with the flu if they had any of the symptoms: fever, cough, sore throat, chills, body aches, etc.. This was an outbreak of epic proportions.       There are three theories as to how viruses came to be. One is the cellular theory, which states that maybe viruses were a part of cells and this is where they evolved from. Another is the regressive theory, which states that viruses might have once been cells. The viruses then regressed into a state where they needed to depend upon another cell in order to survive. The third theory deals with coevolution, and it states that perhaps cells and viruses evolved side by side.        A common misconception that some people might have is that since viruses can spread and do all of these things that they are alive. This is inaccurate, as viruses are parasitic. They are not alive, and as a result, they don’t have a metabolism. They rely completely on the cell that they are attached to in order to survive.Dear Mr. De la Garza,       I had some questions regarding viruses that I was hoping you could answer. What are the best ways to treat them? I recently got the flu. I had a headache, followed by chills, fatigue, a fever, a sore throat, and a runny nose. I tried taking medicine but it hasn’t helped.  I had to wait it out. It was horrible! What are your recommendations for tackling viruses such as the flu? I would really like to know so that I don’t ever have to deal with this again.                     Sincerely, Beck FieldmanThanks for sending in your letter, Mr. Fieldman. One way to avoid having a viral infection like the flu is to get a vaccine. Vaccinations are great for being proactive against viruses. They give the user a faux illness, and the body fights it off. This prepares the immune system for whenever a person is actually exposed to a virus.  The frequency of having to get a certain vaccine all depends on the vaccine. If you don’t get a vaccine and you end up with a sickness like the flu, there are several medications that can be taken to reduce the symptoms. Some options include Tamiflu or Oscillococcinum. I hope that I have helped! Follow these guidelines and you should be prepared for the next time that you get the flu.               Sincerely, Zachary De la Garza