In we’re not talking about the same

In this lesson, we’ll delve into the number one cause of severe diarrhea in children, a weird-sounding disease called bluetongue disease, and something known as the Colorado tick fever virus as we explore the viruses and disease of the Reoviridae virus family.

The Reoviridae Virus Family

Down in Rio – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, that is – life is beautiful: wonderful weather, beautiful beaches, and great people. When you hear of Rio, you don’t think about diarrhea, rashes, or fever too much unless you had a bad experience. But, that’s only because we’re not talking about the same Rio. I’m talking about the real Reo, as in the Reoviridae virus family.

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Reoviridae Structure and Transmission

This virus family has a double-stranded RNA genome housed within an icosahedral capsid. They are not enveloped viruses and hence are more resistant to environmental destruction in comparison to enveloped viruses. The viruses in this family are transmitted in a number of different ways. Some of them are transmitted through the orofecal route – that is to say by way of food, hands, or objects contaminated with virus-laden feces.

Other viruses are transmitted when animals, including humans, are bitten by something like a tick or a mosquito. This is known as arthropod transmission. Since they use an arthropod vector for transmission purposes, some of the viruses in this family are therefore known as arboviruses.

The Rotavirus

One nasty virus of this family is known as the rotavirus. This is a virus that causes viral gastroenteritis and is the number-one cause of severe diarrhea in children and infants all over the world. It’s easy to remember what the rotavirus is responsible for. If you’ve ever had the stomach flu that caused vomiting and diarrhea, and I think you have, then it feels like your gut and stomach is churning, twisting, and rotating all over the place.

Well, remember that rotavirus rotates and churns your organs around like crazy, making you expel things out of both ends of your body.The problem with rotavirus is that it can cause life-threatening dehydration if not taken care of, especially in infants. And, I know what you’re thinking: ‘I’ve heard it all before; a lot of viruses can cause diarrhea and dehydration.’ But, in this case, 500,000 children die all over the world due to this virus each and every single year.

It’s that serious. Since this virus uses the orofecal route to spread around to other people, it’s therefore critical to wash your hands, food, and any toys you come into contact with in order to minimize the spread of this virus. As an added measure of protection, there are some very effective vaccines available for preventing rotavirus gastroenteritis.

Bluetongue Disease and Colorado Tick Fever

Besides rotaviral diarrhea, one very famous disease that is of economic importance in this family is called bluetongue disease. No, this isn’t something you get after munching on blue lollipops during Carnival down in Rio; however, the very first cases of this virus in South America were discovered there! This is a disease spread by a midge that causes vesicular lesions and high mortality rates in ruminants. Ruminants include animals such as deer, sheep, cattle and goats, and the vesicular lesions they get are basically really nasty blisters and ulcers of sorts.

Once infected, an animal might have a blue and swollen tongue sticking out of its mouth, which is what gives this disease its name. The reason this disease is important to remember is because it not only causes some serious issues in ruminants, but may also impart a serious economic loss to an individual farmer or even an entire nation if trade restrictions were to occur because of this disease.One last virus to note in this family, an arbovirus like the bluetongue virus, is known as the Colorado tick fever virus. As its name implies, this is a virus that is spread by ticks and causes a condition called Colorado tick fever. If a human gets bitten by a tick carrying this virus, they may experience everything from a fever and chills to muscle pain and a rash.

So, if you are the type of person who loves to hike in the mountain forests of the Rocky Mountain states, especially during the months of February through October, and you get a fever after being bitten by a tick, then it’s best to go see a doctor, as this is only one of many pathogens that can be transmitted in similar ways and cause similar signs.Oh, and by the way, old wives’ tales of lighting a match to a tick or using jelly to get the tick to detach are best avoided. This is because when the tick becomes stressed out when you use these methods, it may actually regurgitate more of its internal contents or saliva into your body. This will only serve to increase the potential amount of pathogens, including other viruses and bacteria, you will be exposed to.

Lesson Summary

So, there were three main terms we went over in this lesson. One of them is a nasty virus called the rotavirus. This is a virus that causes viral gastroenteritis and is the number-one cause of severe diarrhea in children and infants all over the world.

The other concept to recall is something called bluetongue disease. This is a disease spread by a midge that causes vesicular lesions and high mortality rates in ruminants. Finally, if you’ll be travelling to the Rocky Mountains any time soon, then don’t forget the Colorado tick fever virus. As its name implies, this is a virus that is spread by ticks and causes a condition called Colorado tick fever.

Learning Outcomes

Following this video lesson, you will be able to:

  • Describe the structure of the Reoviridae virus family and how it is transmitted
  • Identify the prevalence of rotavirus
  • Explain the symptoms of rotavirus, bluetongue disease and Colorado tick fever virus
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