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Can a Virus Get Sick?

Viral infections, caused by small microorganisms called viruses that invade and multiply in large numbers leading to illness, are nightmares for most of us. Until 2008, most people thought of viruses as disease causing agents and not organisms that can be diseased themselves. But according to a study that was published in the journal "Nature" in France in 2008, viruses can become infected and sickened by other viruses.

French scientists discovered a giant virus that was infected by another virus. The smaller virus caused the bigger virus to lose its ability to multiply. The study has led to the identification of the first "virophage" (a virus that infects another virus), similar to the term "bacteriophage" (a virus that infects bacteria). The study ignited discussions over the definition of a virus and whether it is a living organisms or not.

More about viruses:

  • Viruses are parasitic; they cannot multiply without a host.

  • Some illnesses caused by viruses are flu, chickenpox, measles, herpes and AIDS.

  • A new flu vaccine is needed every year because some viruses change very quickly.

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