URL of this page: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/viralinfections.html

Viral Infections

Summary

Viruses are capsules with genetic material inside. They are very tiny, much smaller than bacteria. Viruses cause familiar infectious diseases such as the common cold, flu and warts. They also cause severe illnesses such as HIV/AIDS, smallpox and hemorrhagic fevers.

Viruses are like hijackers. They invade living, normal cells and use those cells to multiply and produce other viruses like themselves. This eventually kills the cells, which can make you sick.

Viral infections are hard to treat because viruses live inside your body's cells. They are "protected" from medicines, which usually move through your bloodstream. Antibiotics do not work for viral infections. There are a few antiviral medicines available. Vaccines can help prevent you from getting many viral diseases.

NIH: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

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