Adventures of Martin the scientist (XIII) Virus, go away!

That morning Martín woke up feeling terrible. He told his father about this and he immediately recognized the cause.

— You won't go to school today, son. You have a cold.

— Why did I get sick? the boy asked.

— This happens because of a type of virus called rhinovirus.

— What are viruses?

— Viruses are microorganisms, very small beings that cannot be seen with the naked eye. To see them we would need a microscope. Unlike cells, which can reproduce on their own, these are not living things.

— Aren't they? Martin asked, surprised.

— No, that is why to fulfill their vital functions they need our bodies. Their surfaces have proteins that bind to the receptors on our cells, which is why, when we get sick, we become their hosts. This allows them to replicate their genetic material in our cells. That is why they are called infectious agents.

That week, Martín was in bed sneezing. He was so tired that he didn't even have the strength for his experiments, it was terrible! At least if there was one good thing about getting sick, it was that he could have all of his mom's vegetable soup that he wanted, which he rarely did because she took so much preparation.

However, on Sunday he woke up feeling much better. His nose was clear so he no longer had trouble breathing and his throat didn't hurt either. At last he could do science again!

— Martin, the food is ready. To the table! — Warned his mother.

The boy went to the table but when he was about to sit down his mother looked at him seriously.

— Did you wash your hands? — He asked with his arms on his hips.

— No, sorry. I'll be right back! — She exclaimed running to the bathroom.

As he washed his hands with soap and water in the bathroom, he realized that he never wondered why he always had to wash his hands if he hadn't touched mud or anything dirty. During lunch, he told his new question to his parents and his dad said:

— Viruses can be transmitted by different types of vectors, which are carriers of the virus. In some cases, these vectors can be animals, water, air, food, and objects. That is why washing our hands is an important hygiene habit. Thanks to this we can avoid the transmission and contagion of viruses that we may have in them due to having had contact with infected objects.

After that moment, Martin not only did not sit at the table again without having washed his hands first, but also investigated other prevention methods such as covering the mouth when coughing or sneezing and vaccinations, which prepare the system immune by teaching it to recognize the virus more quickly when it enters our body.

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