I understand that this would be a very rough estimate, but approximately how many cells in the human body are infected during an average non-fatal viral infection before the infection is eliminated by the immune system? It doesn't matter what virus you use as an example, I'm just looking for a general case.

Thank you,


  • 3
    $\begingroup$ The following isn't really an adequate answer because (1) HIV dynamics aren't typical virus dynamics and (2) this tells us how many cells are killed, not how many cells are infected. But in case it is useful, there are roughly 2*10^11 CD4 T-cells in an adult and untreated HIV eventually infects and kills the large majority of those. $\endgroup$
    – Corvus
    Apr 7, 2015 at 7:30
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Actually, that's about the answer I was looking for. Feel free to transfer it to answer form (if you want). Anyone else with information/sources pertaining to this please don't hesitate to post them, I'll take as many cases as I can get. Thanks. $\endgroup$
    – CDB
    Apr 7, 2015 at 17:46
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Different viruses infect different cell types. You should narrow this down. Do you mean what percentage of "target" host cells? And it also depends on the viral replication dynamics $\endgroup$
    Apr 8, 2015 at 4:09
  • $\begingroup$ Given that Corvus' answer gives a nice and interesting global estimate worthy of an answer, I think the question should not be closed - but an edit is definitely appropriate to narrow it down a bit. -1 $\endgroup$
    – AliceD
    Apr 8, 2015 at 5:04
  • $\begingroup$ I was really just looking for cases/studies, I don't care which virus they use, that's totally up to the answerer. I thought that if I narrowed it down it would just decrease my chances of getting any sort of an answer. I'm still in the beginning stages of setting this project up, so it's highly adaptable. Seeing as I was looking for a broad selection of answers (thus I did not limit the acceptable answers by adding too many details/requirements), I do not believe this questions needs editing. $\endgroup$
    – CDB
    Apr 8, 2015 at 5:20


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