Virus appreciation day

Story by Grey Johnson, staff writer

Holidays are meant to create memories, remember memories, and celebrate. Holidays celebrate anything from political figures to historical moments to an idea. When is the last time you have heard of something that is normally considered bad being celebrated. It sounds like a day of infamy, not celebration, and out of all the things in existence, disease has caused the most pain and suffering. But, the meaning behind Virus Appreciation Day gets you to see the good in the bad.

The holiday known as Virus Appreciation Day, celebrated on Oct. 3, is a day of appreciating what at the time seemed like a hinderance. The Cowpox virus that inspired the holiday saved millions of lives, despite it causing a disease itself.

The Cowpox was very similar to Smallpox, a disease caused by the Variola virus. Doctors noticed that people who tended to cows would rarely get Smallpox because the nearly harmless Cowpox would protect them from Smallpox. Cowpox was so closely related to Smallpox, that by contracting Cowpox, a person could grow an immunity to Smallpox. This discovery from Edward Jenner led to the creation of the first successful vaccine by means of purposely injecting Cowpox into a patient.

The deadly disease known as Smallpox was declared officially eradicated on May 3, 1980. It has claimed millions of lives and affected millions more. The vaccine to one virus started with another virus. Without Cowpox, who knows what would’ve happened.

So, Oct. 3 is a day to celebrate the ultimate biology betrayal, one virus causing the downfall of another.

“Good viruses are kind of an oxymoron, but scientists have studied the effects of viruses that are cell-specific to types of bacteria,” biology Sharp said. “This research has led to phage therapy where they introduce a virus in order to kill a bacteria, which is causing a specific disorder or disease. So, in a roundabout way, they are good for us, but still a pathogen to some other living entity.”