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Model of a influenza virus, Canberra, Australia, 1994

Magnified five million times to a size of 710 mm in diameter, this model shows a particle of the influenza virus. The yellow rod shapes represent haemagglutin, used by the virus to gain entry into cells in the body. The four-pronged mushroom represents an enzyme, neuraminidase, used by the virus when it has shifted and changed in shape to spread to other cells. The changeable nature of the shape of the virus means flu is difficult to prevent using a vaccine. The model was made for William Graeme Laver, a virologist working on a treatment for influenza, to exhibit at the Royal Society in June 1994.

Object number:

1994-1033

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Glossary:

Glossary: model - representation

Use for a scaled representation of an object or structure, usually three-dimensional. The item is often idealised or modified to make it conceptually easier to understand.

Glossary: virus

A tiny particle made up of DNA/RNA and a protein coat. Viruses infect animals, plants, and micro-organisms and cause many diseases, including the common cold, influenza, measles, chickenpox, AIDS, polio and rabies. Many viral diseases can be controlled by means of vaccines.

Glossary: influenza

A highly contagious viral infection that affects the respiratory system. Common symptoms of the disease are chills and fever, sore throat, muscle pains, severe headache, coughing, weakness and general discomfort. In more serious cases, influenza may cause pneumonia, which can be fatal.