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 infect the cells that line the respiratory tract. This can include the nose, mouth, throat, sinuses, airways and lungs.
The symptoms caused by different respiratory viruses are often quite similar. Doctors classify symptoms into two main groups:

  • Local symptoms: These are symptoms that affect primarily the body part where the infection started. They include 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 these differences.

Sick child