Dr. Doug Schultz with Shannon Medical Center explains how a virus “works”


At KSAN and KLST, we know there are still several questions you have about COVID-19 and these uncertain times. We are working on a series of stories to address some of the issues that have been brought up.

For our first story, Dr. Doug Schultz, Chief Medical Officer for Shannon Medical Center explained how a virus works and what it does to the body.

“Really a virus is a very simple thing to be doing so much damage. It’s just a capsule with genetic material inside. It’s not even really alive, it can’t do anything, it can’t move. 

So you’ve seen the spikes with COVID, it gets into your respiratory system it attaches to one of your cells in your lung and then injects that material into the cell and takes it over and it starts making new virus. Once it makes enough of them it explodes the cell, kills the cell, now there’s a whole lot more that go out and attach to the rest of the cells so pretty soon there are millions of your lung cells affected. 

That’s when the body starts fighting back with the immune system. Like if you’ve got a thorn in your finger it starts turning red, that’s the inflammation. So your lung starts getting inflamed trying to fight off this virus. That’s what really causes the issue. It’s the inflammation, it starts filling your lung up with fluid and white cells and all that kind of stuff we fight infection with, that’s what really makes you have trouble breathing. And depending on how bad it is, it could be very mild but if it’s severe, you could end up in the hospital. 

So that’s kinda how it works. So being a small virus like that that’s why it’s easy to cough out and sneeze and it’s so tiny it can go through the air and get to the next person,” Dr. Schultz said.

He added that it is extremely important to practice social distancing and remain at least six (6) feet away from people if you have to leave your home.

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