Page 80 - South Mississippi Living - June, 2022
P. 80

     What is a
 story by Lynn Lofton photos courtesy of Memorial Health System
and Singing River Health System
Magdy Mikhail, M.D.
Matthew Jack Murray, M.D.
Everyone’s heard of viruses and in all likelihood had them. The most well known viruses include coronavirus (COVID-19), the common cold, chicken- pox, and measles. The most serious are rabies, hepatitis, HIV, and polio. Two local physicians shed some light on what a virus is and how we can protect ourselves from them.
Magdy Mikhail, M.D. with Memorial Cowan Road Primary Internal Medicine & Multispecialty Clinic in Gulfport, gives a scientific description. “A virus is an infectious microbe consisting of a segment of nucleic acid surrounded by a protein coating. It cannot replicate alone; it must infect cells and use components of the host cell to make copies of itself.”
Matthew Jack Murray, M.D. with the Singing River Health System in Pas- cagoula, looks at it another way. “I like to think of viruses as zombies. They are basically non-living parasites,” he said. “They hijack the machinery we typically use to make our own proteins and use them to make new viruses.”
Mikhail explains that the main difference between bacteria and a virus
is that bacteria – unlike a virus – are free-living cells that can live inside or outside a body. “Viral illnesses happen when we eat food or drink water con- taminated with a virus, having sexual contact with a person who is infected, indirect person-to-person transmission by a virus host such as a mosquito, tick, or field mouse,” he said. “Sometimes touching surfaces or body fluids contaminated with a virus gets us sick.”
Murray adds that people typically need to come into contact with any part of a body that is moist such as your mouth, lungs, inside your nose, and eyes to get a virus. “Viruses are transferred person-to-person through coughing, sneezing, or contaminated hands after going to the restroom, or touching a contaminated surface.”
Both physicians affirm that vaccination and hygiene are the best defense against a virus. “Vaccination will always be the best way to get rid of most viruses,” Mikhail says. “Thanks to the success of vaccination, the last natural outbreak of small pox in the U.S. occurred in 1949.”
“We were able to eradicate polio from the Americas through effective vaccination campaigns,” Murray said. “Most viruses cannot live for more than a few hours or days on surfaces such as doorknobs, tables etc. Hand washing with warm soap is very effective in cleansing viruses off your hands and fingernails.”
  80 | June 2022 | SOUTH MISSISSIPPI Living

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