When this happens with influenza viruses, pandemics might result. Viruses must generate mRNAs from their genomes to produce proteins and replicate themselves, but different mechanisms are used to achieve this in each virus family. , Uncoating is a process in which the viral capsid is removed: This may be by degradation by viral enzymes or host enzymes or by simple dissociation; the end-result is the releasing of the viral genomic nucleic acid. There is now an effective treatment that uses the nucleoside analogue drug ribavirin combined with interferon.  Most viral infections of humans and other animals have incubation periods during which the infection causes no signs or symptoms. In 1963 the hepatitis B virus was discovered by Baruch Blumberg, and in 1965 Howard Temin described the first retrovirus. The most recently discovered human cancer virus is a polyomavirus (Merkel cell polyomavirus) that causes most cases of a rare form of skin cancer called Merkel cell carcinoma. This mechanism has evolved to favour those viruses that infect only cells in which they are capable of replication. The infection of plant and fungal cells is different from that of animal cells. Transmitted by aphids, this virus can reduce crop yields by up to 80 per cent, causing significant losses to potato yields. Viruses are genetically simple organisms; the smallest viral genomes are only 2–3 kbp while the largest are ~1.2 Mbp – comparable in size to the genome of Rickettsia. (For more information on the classification of living things, see my earlier article “How Many Kinds of Living Things Are There?”).  When outbreaks cause an unusually high proportion of cases in a population, community, or region, they are called epidemics. The causes of death include cell lysis, alterations to the cell's surface membrane and apoptosis. When virions are coated with stain (positive staining), fine detail is obscured. These are solutions of salts of heavy metals, such as tungsten, that scatter the electrons from regions covered with the stain. It should also be noted that in most cases, antibiotics — which are designed to attack bacteria — are completely ineffective against viral diseases. 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The word virus comes from a Latin word describing poisonous liquids. , Classification seeks to describe the diversity of viruses by naming and grouping them on the basis of similarities. There are three main hypotheses that aim to explain the origins of viruses:, In the past, there were problems with all of these hypotheses: the regressive hypothesis did not explain why even the smallest of cellular parasites do not resemble viruses in any way.  Most types of viruses are restricted to just one or two of these mechanisms and they are referred to as "respiratory viruses" or "enteric viruses" and so forth. , Viruses are the most abundant biological entity in aquatic environments There are about ten million of them in a teaspoon of seawater. Within a short amount of time, in some cases just minutes, bacterial polymerase starts translating viral mRNA into protein. The first X-ray diffraction pictures of the crystallised virus were obtained by Bernal and Fankuchen in 1941. Influenza viruses are spread by coughing and sneezing. , Some viruses cause no apparent changes to the infected cell. For RNA viruses, each segment often codes for only one protein and they are usually found together in one capsid. The life-cycle of the virus is then halted because the newly synthesised DNA is inactive. Industrial processes have been recently developed using viral vectors and a number of pharmaceutical proteins are currently in pre-clinical and clinical trials. Because a bacterium is alive, it can be killed. Although they have genes, they do not have a cellular structure, which is often seen as the basic unit of life. , Originally from Peru, the potato has become a staple crop worldwide. , Viruses are by far the most abundant biological entities on Earth and they outnumber all the others put together. , The second half of the 20th century was the golden age of virus discovery, and most of the documented species of animal, plant, and bacterial viruses were discovered during these years. Virus self-assembly within host cells has implications for the study of the origin of life, as it lends further credence to the hypothesis that life could have started as self-assembling organic molecules. , Viral epidemiology is the branch of medical science that deals with the transmission and control of virus infections in humans. 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