Respiratory Viruses

What are viruses?

A virus is a type of microscopic infectious agent.  Unlike bacteria and viruses, viruses can only reproduce or make more of itself by infecting other types of cells.  Scientists have identified many different types of viruses that can infect different types of cells, ranging from bacteria to plants to animals including people.

What are respiratory viruses?

Respiratory viruses are viruses the primarily infection the cells that line the respiratory tract.  This can include the nose, mouth, throat, sinuses, airways and lungs.

Respiratory viruses cause many of the same types of symptoms.  Doctors classify symptoms into two main groups:

  • Local symptoms: These are symptoms that affect primary the body part that the virus infects directly, such as runny nose, sore throat, cough, wheeze and shortness of breath.
  • Systemic symptoms: These are symptoms that affect the whole body such as fevers, chills or muscle aches and are usually cause by your immune system’s response to the virus.

Not all people are affected in a same way by a particular virus.  The same virus can cause mild or no symptoms in some people and severe symptoms in others.  The Thielen lab is studying the factors that lead to this differences.

Sick child