This is War: The Immune System and Influenza


The human body is designed and equipped to fight off viruses and bacteria that are abundantly found in the environment. A simple sneeze can spread thousands of bacteria and viruses and each has the potential to invade the body. The harmful organisms invade the body through the nose, however, the nose is protected with cilia or hair like structures that trap dusts and other particles and keep them from getting into the body. At this point, bacteria are easily neutralized by the nose’s mucus while the virus known as influenza B survives and travels into the throat from the nostrils.

Once in the throat, the virus will seek out a cell in the throat that the virus will use as a source of energy and allow it to replicate, in a matter of hours, there will be thousands of viruses in the throat. When the throat cells are taken over by the virus, the body releases killer cells that will attack the cells infected with the virus, however, killer cells do this crudely, and sometimes even the good cells get destroyed. At this point the body now begins to feel the pain that the virus in the throat has caused and the body will become weak and uncomfortable. The throat cells send of distress signals to the brain and the body releases a surge of chemicals that slows the body down. This is important so that the body will rest and gain strength while the immune system works.

Then, due to the increase of viruses in the throat cells, the body sends of an alarm and signals the brain into thinking that it is cold and hence the body temperature rises, this is when the body is having a fever. The rise in the body temperature slows down the virus and stops it from replicating. But with the fever also come headaches and shivers and a general feeling of being unwell. While the virus is wreaking havoc in the throat, dendritic cells gather information about the virus and bring the information to the lymph glands. The lymph glands contain many cells that are wired to fight off and kill specific viruses. The messenger cell has to find the right T cell for it to activate the body’s cells to fight the virus. When the right T cell is activated, it will replicate in thousands and then go to the virus in the throat cells to kill it. The T cells are able to precisely attack and kill the virus, while another cell in the lymph glands called the B cells are also replicating and then releasing certain protein materials that will rain on the viruses and kill them, these are called antibodies.

It would take a week for the body to successfully fight the virus, after the battle, some of the T cells remain and become memory cells, they store information about the virus so that when it attempts to infect the body, and the antibodies will remember it and kill it right away. However, viruses has the ability to mutate, hence, it may still infect the body in the future. Meanwhile, the body has revered from the effects of the virus, but some viruses capable of infecting another body can stay in the saliva or the mucus of the body.

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