Jim Macdonald is hosting a good, science-y, factually grounded thread about swine flu over at Making Light
You must know that proteins have shapes, and those shapes are how you can tell one protein from another. Your cells are covered with protein, viruses have protein capsules, it's all protein on the molecular level.
Flu Redux (Making Light, thanks Teresa Nielsen Hayden!)
Your immune system (when it's working right) recognizes self and non-self. It protects the self and attacks the non-self. It does this in a couple of ways. First, you have generalized reaction. When cells are distressed, they release cytokines, and those switch on a kind of white cell called the NK-cell. NK stands for Natural Killer (no, I'm not making this up). The NK cells find anything they don't recognize, and, using specialized proteins, destroy it. When you've got an infection, those are the first things that come on line.
The next thing to arrive are the antibodies. These are specialized cells that are keyed to find one specific protein--the foreign invader protein--and destroy it. Before your body can produce antibodies, it has to have been exposed to the antigens (which is what you call non-self proteins), and be sensitized.
Meanwhile, your body is releasing enzymes that act as chemical messengers to produce various effects. Fevers, swelling, sweating, headache ... all enzymes. The aching in your bones that you feel is the marrow pumping out white cells to fight the infection.
Once your body has successfully fought off an invader, the antibodies remain. If they ever again encounter proteins of the same shape, they'll be on 'em fast. The infection won't have a chance to start.
Previously: Swine Influenza Update from a Nurse: Virus, Panic, Precautions, and End of the World Websites.
As U.S. headlines bombard us with proof of how low humanity can go, here’s a look at a happy, peaceful, and prosperous country — The Netherlands — to remind us that it is actually possible for the human race to get it right. If people want to change present circumstances through liberal ideals, it’s helpful to look […]
Marcell Shehwaro’s magnificent, sarcastic, angry essay in Global Voices expresses her gratitude for her Syrian passport, because it has allowed her to see how states are willing to punish the already brutalized out of rage and fear.
Pete from Doctors Without Borders writes, “Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders have today launched MapSwipe, an app that enables anyone with a smartphone to map the most vulnerable communities in the world. Geo-data is vital for aid agencies responding to emergencies such as disease outbreaks and natural disasters and MapSwipe now gives everybody the ability […]
The Lightning port has thus far resisted the cruel fate that befell the headphone jack, and despite rumors that it may be disappearing come iPhone 8, for the present and foreseeable future, Lightning cables are a hot commodity for iPhone users. As such, we must make do in this strange time in which long, glorified […]
All the filters in the world won’t save your smartphone pics from a shaky hand. To really step up your mobile photography game, you’ll need some kind of mount to hold it steady. You could buy a smartphone attachment for a conventional camera tripod, but who wants to carry that kind of gear everywhere they […]
The forced transition from analog to digital TV signals was probably met with relative indifference from people with Netflix subscriptions and the “I don’t even own a TV” snoots. But anyone living in the vast swaths of the country that don’t have guaranteed high-speed internet, broadcast TV is a perfectly valid (and 100% free) way […]