Some of the most familiar minor illnesses, such as coughs, sore throats, and attacks of diarrhoea and vomiting, are often caused by viral infections. However, viruses are responsible not only for minor infections but also for potentially fatal diseases, such as rabies and HIV infection and AIDS.
The first articles discuss frequently occurring viral infections such as the common cold and influenza, the related infections chickenpox and herpes zoster, and herpes simplex infections. The next articles describe the once-common viral infections of childhood: measles, mumps, and rubella. Until the second half of the 20th century, almost all children experienced these illnesses. Routine immunization has now made such diseases rare in developed countries. However, some of these viruses can still affect adults who have not been immunized, producing symptoms that are often severe. Articles follow on a number of viral diseases, including yellow fever and dengue fever, that may be encountered in the developing world. The section ends with an article on HIV infection and AIDS.
Viral infections that affect only one body system are covered elsewhere in the guide. For example, acute hepatitis and chronic hepatitis are covered in liver and gallbladder disorders, and genital herpes and genital warts are covered in sexually transmitted infections.
For more information on the structure and function of viruses.
From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.