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Human Endogenous Retroviruses

According to research, viruses are the major causes of the greatest shocking diseases in the world today. However, many people are only aware of H.I.V. which has been the most spreading virus over the years. Viruses are very fast reproducing micro organisms. They are basically packages of genetic material that cannot function or exist on their own. They, therefore, must infect live cells in order to survive where they control the immune system of the cells they infect. The Human Endogenous Retroviruses (HERVs) are part of the normal flora of the human genetic constitute. They are, therefore, representatives of the remains of ancestral retroviral infections from where they became part of the germline DNA. Just like the normal cellular genes, HERVs are subject to the Mendelian inheritance structure. All human being are therefore carriers of the human endogenous retrovirus as part of their genetic composition where they exist as fragments. Surprisingly, these viruses have not been found to cause any harm to humans but rather some may help in protein generation in the human body although they are mainly described as not functional. However some of the viruses have been defeated with time by evolution though it is not a common occurrence. However, different family members may show variations in transcriptional patterns of the HERVs because some cell types may regulate the transcription process.

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Therefore, you need not to worry about the virus because it is part of the human normal flora and very harmless for that matter. So there is no threat of being infected with a disease because after all you have had the virus since birth. Or, may be the virus has been defeated over your generation so still there is the chance that you do not have it or better yet in very minute numbers.

Vaccines against viruses

Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis (Tdap) vaccine
Human papillomavirus (HPV)
Influenza vaccine
Hepatitis A vaccine (HepA)
Hepatitis B vaccine (HepB)
Measles, Mumps, Rubella vaccine (MMR)
Rotavirus vaccine (RV)
Inactivated Poliovirus (IPV)
Meningococcal vaccine (MCV)

Vaccines against bacteria

Pneumococcal vaccine (PCV)
Meningococcal vaccine (MCV)
Varicella vaccine

The Tdap vaccine is a live-attenuated vaccine and protects against three diseases caused by viruses: tetanus, diphtheria and polio. Unlike the tetanus and diphtheria vaccines which are made from live bacteria and viruses respectively, the polio virus is inactive made from dead polio viruses. Tetanus is a very serious disease that results when the tetanus germ together with dirt finds their way into openings on the skin especially through cuts on the human skin. The tetanus bacterium inhabits the soil and manure. Symptoms of tetanus infection include uncontrollable contractions of body muscles and severe convulsions. This disease cannot be transmitted from one person to another (Handy 1). Diphtheria affects the throat, nose and the skin causing symptoms such as fever, sore throat and chills. If not treated early enough, diphtheria can cause health complications such as heart failure, nerve breakdown and difficulty breathing. Unlike tetanus, this disease can be transmitted through careless sneezing and coughing. Polio is the most serious disease of the three which is caused by ingestion of the polio germ present in drinking water or food. It causes breakdown of the nervous system which results to permanent paralysis of the infected person. The person’s ability to talk, eat and breathe may be affected with very severe cases resulting to death (Bookchin and Schunacher 1).

The human papillomavirus vaccine is neither live attenuated nor is it killed but rather made up of viral proteins. This vaccine protects against human papillomavirus infection which causes most of the sexually transmitted diseases. Infection by this virus affects the genitals of both male and female. Other body parts can also be affected such as the mouth and the throat. Transmission of the virus occurs during sexual intercourse. The most common symptom of the infection is genital warts which appear as small lumps around the genitals. Advancement of the infection causes cervical cancer. The influenza vaccine is the inactivated type giving protection against flu which a very communicable disease is passed through the respiratory system. The obvious symptom is fever accompanied by cough and sometimes painful muscles. Immune-compromised people may die from the disease (McHenry 1).

Hepatitis A and B vaccines are inactive vaccines synthesized using hepatitis A and B viruses respectively both of which prevent infections of the liver caused by the respective viruses. Hepatitis A virus is spread by ingestion of contaminated water or food and symptoms of the infection include: anorexia, fever and nausea while hepatitis B is spread through saliva, blood and other body fluids with cancer developing as the infection advances. Measles, Mumps, Rubella vaccine (MMR) is a live vaccine obtained from the respective live viruses. The most prominent sign of measles is the red rash that starts on the face and later spreads to the rest of the body. Mumps are characterized by enlarged salivary glands which can be seen through the cheeks. Symptoms of rubella infection include: swelling of glands and smaller joints as well as the development of a rash on the face. The rotavirus vaccine is a live vaccine obtained from active forms of the Rota virus which protects against diarrhea which is always accompanied by severe vomiting and fever in children. This disease is extremely communicable through physical contact. Inactivated poliovirus vaccine may be given orally in its live form or may be injected in its killed form. It is mostly obtained from dead polio viruses although sometimes it can be made using weakened forms of the virus. It protects against infection by the polio germs in children.

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Meningococcal vaccine (MCV) is an active vaccine made using live Neisseria meningitides bacteria. It protects against infections by the bacterium Neisseria meningitidis which usually causes meningitis or/and blood infection. Both infections are very deadly although blood infection is more severe. The disease is infectious and may lead to permanent disability. Pneumococcal vaccine (PCV) is a live attenuated vaccine made from streptococcal bacteria. It protects children against pneumococcal infections which are usually caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria. The infection affects the respiratory tract with evident symptoms such as coughing, difficulty breathing and general body weakness among others. Varicella vaccine is active obtained from live bacteria and it protects against chickenpox, an infection caused by the varicella virus. Symptoms of the infection are fever and the common rash on the skin which is more likely to appear on the face. It is transmitted through careless sneezing and coughing as well as through personal physical contact. Complications of the infection may cause swelling of the brain.


Bookchin, Debbie and Schunacher, Jim. “The Virus and the Vaccine”. 2000 – 2011. Web.

Handy, Catherine. “Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis (DTaP)”. 2009 – 2011. Web.

McHenry, William.”Influenza Virus Vaccine Safety and Availability”. 2009 – 2011. Web.

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