Questions tagged [virology]

Virology deals with the study of viruses, infectious entities that require the machinery of a host cell to replicate.

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96
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7answers
22k views

Do beneficial viruses exist? If so, what examples are there?

Typically, people call viruses some kind of organic compounds that cannot reproduce autonomously and which lower the fitness of their hosts. Even the word "virus" means "venom" in Latin. But from the ...
96
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3answers
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What's the evidence against SARS-CoV-2 being engineered by humans?

A couple of colleagues suggested in a discussion that the virus that causes COVID-19 appears to be made by humans, since nature could not have produced such an efficient virus — that spreads so fast ...
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Are the social-distancing measures implemented against SARS-CoV-2 also suppressing the spread of other viruses?

With social-distancing measures being implemented in many countries I would expect other viruses, like the ones that cause seasonal flus, to have also a hard time propagating in these circumstances. ...
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7answers
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Why isn't a virus “alive”?

The recent news about a new supermassive virus being discovered got me thinking about how we define viruses as non-living organisms whilst they are bigger than bacteria, and much more complex than we ...
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2answers
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Are all emerging viral diseases of the past 100 years zoonoses?

From my basic understanding: The viruses causing Ebola, Sars and Covid-19 are all the result of a zoonosis, meanings that the viruses have passed from animals to humans. So my question is: Are all ...
45
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3answers
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How does a Coronavirus “test kit” work?

A number of countries are using test kits for detecting new cases of nCoV (2019-Coronavirus) and apparently China is running low. What exactly is in a nCoV "Test Kit" — How does it work? (Surely ...
40
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5answers
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Virus cannot survive on surface after certain time period, but why and how?

I'm not a biology student at all, but I'm trying to get a clearer picture on what is meant by "virus cannot survive after a certain period". To my understanding, a virus cannot be killed it can only ...
38
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2answers
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Why don't we develop immunity against common cold?

We all suffer from common cold, and that, frequently. Why have we not developed immunity against it till now? By immunity I mean immunity as a species.
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4answers
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Why do some viruses cease being a problem even though no vaccine or cure is found?

No vaccine or cure has been found for SARS-CoV or MERS-CoV yet the world is not too concerned about them. How can it be? Did all people who had those viruses die or do viruses just randomly decide to ...
32
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3answers
6k views

Can you be immune to a coronavirus?

Can one be immune to the new coronavirus? Another question is what is the exact definition of "being immune". Does it mean that even when the virus enters my system, it cannot multiply?
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Why doesn't blood remain on a mosquito's proboscis in quantities that could spread blood-borne diseases?

We know that HIV can't be transmitted by mosquitos, and nor can other highly virulent viruses that are transmitted through blood and bodily fluid exchanges, such as Ebola (thankfully!). Marcus Junius ...
31
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1answer
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How did viruses come to be?

My question is out of curiosity and got me thinking. How did viruses with the head, tail and tail fibres actually evolve? These viruses look more like machines than biological entities. Are there any ...
29
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1answer
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Does the genetic sequence of SARS-CoV-2 end with 33 A's?

Looking at the DNA (or RNA?) sequence of the Covid-19 virus here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/nuccore/MN908947.3 I notice it ends in 33 a's. Does the virus really look like that, or is it some ...
28
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Can the dead be brought back to life by viruses?

Zombies have been a part of popular culture for decades. The living dead rising up to take over the world is a terrifying concept, worthy of Hollywood blockbusters and television hits. Some of those ...
28
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3answers
5k views

Do viruses or bacteria have a flavour?

My 9 year old niece asked me this when I was explaining some stuff to her about the coronavirus. She asked "What does this virus taste like? Can I tell whether my sandwich is contaminated for ...
28
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2answers
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Why is rabies incurable?

I'm still not sure about the mechanics that lead to rabies being incurable. I know that it can be treated before any symptoms show up, but why is it that once symptoms show the person is a dead man ...
26
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2answers
8k views

Is the Common Cold an Immune Overreaction?

It's my understanding that the majority of symptoms associated with the common cold (runny nose, inflamed sinus, slight fever) are essentially the result of the immune system's response. I've never ...
26
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3answers
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Did the Zika virus mutate?

The Zika virus was already present and known to the world (mostly in Southeast Asia) before the current outbreak. Why has the virus caused such an extreme outbreak? Has it mutated from its ...
25
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1answer
1k views

What are the environmental conditions for SARS-CoV-2 to survive?

What do we know about the environmental limits for nCoV to survive outside the body? For example, in: In open air On surfaces In water What are the limits for temperature, humidity and air pressure,...
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1answer
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How did scientists discover HIV?

Imagining that we're now in 1983 (when HIV was discovered), there were no modern machines at that time to sequence massive genome extracted from blood. There was a strange disease and no one know what ...
23
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2answers
13k views

Is it known how the first viruses formed?

The oldest known virus is known to have infected prehistoric insects 300 million years ago. A virus is basically a parasitic strand if DNA or RNA encapsulated in a protein coat. It enters cells by "...
23
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2answers
4k views

Harmless virus?

Is it possible for a virus to live symbiotically with its host? Is the human body plagued with viral infections that do negligible harm, or even serve a beneficial role?
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2answers
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Why don't we have vaccination against all diseases caused by microbes?

People can be vaccinated against certain diseases. Principle of vaccination is to use live attenuated load or inactivated. My question is - why we dont have vaccination against all diseases which are ...
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Could viruses be used as antibiotics?

Could we use viruses that only affect bacteria to act as antibiotics? The more bacteria, the more times the virus divides, so the stronger it gets. Is this practical?
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Can Biologists identify all viruses?

I went to the doctor today with my girlfriend, and the doctor said that she had a virus but doesn't know which one and she should let the infection heal with some rest. The fact that the doctor didn'...
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4answers
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How to understand influenza strain designations?

What do the strain designations for flu mean? For example avian flu is classified as H5N1, what do the letters H, ...
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3answers
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What causes a 'stuffy' or 'runny' nose when you have a cold?

When humans get the common cold, a common symptom is a stuffy or runny nose. Is that the body's immune response or is that the virus's doing?
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2answers
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Why do people dying of immune deficiency diseases appear sick?

Please forgive the obviously silly appearance of this question, and/or of the tenor which may come across as flippant or dismissive of real world suffering. My intention is none of the above. As a ...
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1answer
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Why would a 2019-nCoV protein sequence in the NCBI database match a protein submitted in 2018?

There seems to be a bit of a conspiracy theory brewing over some data in the NCBI database, and I don't have the necessary knowledge to make sense of it. It basically goes like this: Go to NCBI ...
17
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1answer
674 views

How does herpes (HSV) infection suppress HIV?

HIV compromises the human body to defend against infection. Yet people who are infected with herpes are at less risk of developing AIDS. How does this work?
17
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1answer
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Why are there 2 copies of RNA in the HIV virion?

There are two copies of the RNA in the HIV virion. These are retroviruses. So, they can make cDNA from even just one copy using reverse transcriptase. What is the use of the other? Are both ...
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2answers
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For how long would a flu-contaminated parcel be an effective disease vector?

A parcel has been delivered and contaminated by a person who has the flu. For how long would the parcel be an effective disease vector?
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5answers
2k views

Why have parasites not evolved to be harmless?

I have yet to understand why so many viruses or bacteria haven't evolved to be harmless (specifically, I don't know of any harmless virus). I think it would be greatly beneficial for a virus to ...
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2answers
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Why does immunity from the flu vaccine appear only after two weeks?

It is said that immunity from a flu vaccine appears after about two weeks. However, from experience, the flu usually lasts only a few days. If sufficient antibodies appear only after two weeks ...
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Why does rabies cause hydrophobia?

What feature of rabies pathophysiology causes hydrophobia? Why is hydrophobia unique to this one particular type of viral infection?
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1answer
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How many times has SARS-CoV-2 mutated?

According to Coronavirus has mutated at least once The novel coronavirus that has infected thousands of people across the world may have mutated at least once — meaning there may be two ...
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2answers
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How are viruses weakened to be suitable for vaccination?

I understand there are two kinds of active vaccination Injecting complete viruses that are weakened to not cause the disease being vaccinated against Injecting only antigen particles of viruses that ...
15
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1answer
2k views

What do viruses do during incubation period?

For example, there is an incubation period of around 1 to 3 days for common cold, and that of AIDS can range over to decades. What do viruses do actually do during the incubation period? What ...
15
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2answers
735 views

What is the contribution of viruses to the evolution of mankind?

I'm interested in horizontal gene transfer in bacteria, viruses, and organisms such as Bdelloid Rotifers. I've just read in Carl Zimmer's 'A Planet of Viruses' the following passage: As a host cell ...
14
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4answers
746 views

Computer Virus that infects DNA?

I have watched a talk by Mikko Hypponen (CEO of the security company F-Secure) called Silicon Plague. There, roughly at minute 51 of the talk, he mentions a computer code that is supposed to be able ...
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1answer
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How heavy are all foreign microorganisms in and on the human body?

I define "foreign microorganism" as a microorganism which is not produced by the human body (not antibodies or leukocytes) including bacteria, viruses, fungi, biofilm aggregates or small lifeforms ...
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3answers
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Are viruses self-propelled?

So obviously, viruses are nonliving. But when my teacher was teaching viruses in the video (we're doing "flip" learning this semester), the way he described it, it seemed like the viruses responded to ...
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4answers
5k views

Can viruses be toxic?

Bacteria can produce toxins like endotoxins and exotoxins. In diseases like cholera or tetanus they can harm infected people due to these toxins. Now, although viruses are much smaller and are ...
13
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1answer
1k views

Why are people unable to develop lasting immunity against Norovirus?

Infection with many viruses will result in decades-long if not lifetime immunity, for example chicken pox. Because of the large number of viruses responsible for the common cold, lifelong immunity to ...
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2answers
3k views

Why do viruses last longer on hard surfaces, like glass, than porous ones

All the papers I've read about survival of viruses outside of the host refer to longer survival times on hard surfaces without explaination. As a layman I would have thought that a virus (who's main ...

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