Here’s a riddle: It’s non-living and it doesn’t eat. It doesn’t reproduce, until it invades living beings. Then it becomes active. The answer: It’s not a zombie or the living dead. It’s a virus. You have a complex set of systems, including your muscles, bones, brain, heart and lungs, which work together.
A virus is merely a packet of DNA or RNA information. This packet of information is sort of like an instruction manual on how to reproduce. Surrounding this packet is a protective coat made from protein. This coat is called a capsid. The capsid has spikes that allow it to grab onto a host.
Fun Facts about Viruses for Kids
- Viruses don’t have legs and they can’t move on their own. They travel from host to host through the water droplets in the air, through blood, in water, or in food.
- Insects, such as mosquitoes, can spread viruses from person to person or animal to animal.
- Aphids suck the juice from plants. When they do this, they spread viruses to plants.
- When a virus attacks your body, your body remembers it. The next time it invades, your body is ready to fight it off. Some viruses, though, like the flu, can change so you can get sick more than once. Pretty sneaky trick, huh?
- Sometimes viruses that normally infect animals can jump to humans.
- Invade: attack, enter
- Reproduce: make more of one’s own kind
- Spike: pointed object
- Aphid: a tiny insect that feeds on plants
Learn More about Viruses: The Smallest Microbe on Earth
Watch this video to find out more about viruses, the smallest microbe on Earth:
An animated video of a virus talking about itself.
Question: Can antibiotics kill a virus?
Answer: Antibiotics kill bacteria, not viruses. When a virus enters your body, it hijacks a cell and begins reproducing. The cell explodes and the virus cells move on to infect other cells in your body. Vaccines and anti-viral drugs can fight viruses. Your own body is made to fight off viruses too.