Class Post - Week 5

Source:  Class Post - Week 5    Tag:  chickenpox and smallpox

After a basic introduction to viruses the week prior, last week’s lectures focused primarily on diagnosis of selected viruses, followed by a brief discussion of bioterrorism. Selected viruses/viral infections discussed included HIV, EBV, mumps, measles, hemorrhagic viruses, chickenpox, smallpox, influenza, hantavirus, and viral meningitis to name a few. There are a couple of things I did not know before in regards to the rash associated with chickenpox and smallpox that helps distinguish one infection from the other. For example, in chickenpox the rash is typically found on the face, thorax and trunk, whereas with smallpox the rash occurs on the face, arms and legs. Additionally, the rash associated with chickenpox is in the same stage of development no matter where it appears on the body, whereas with smallpox the rash can be found in different stages of development at different localized areas of the body.
I also found the discussion of influenza virus A interesting, particularly as it relates to its ability to rearrange its genetic material in the process known as reassortment. And, furthermore, that this antigenic variation results in two phenomena: genetic drift and genetic shift, both of which necessitate the need for new seasonal flu vaccine developments every year and continued vigilance in vaccine development for new, emerging strains as they appear in the human population. I found that including the influenza vaccine development timeline slides in the presentation really helped illustrate the concept of reassortment and the effort involved in seasonal flu vaccine development.