- Virussearch for term
Organism composed mainly of nucleic acid within a protein coat. When viruses enter a living plant, animal, or bacterial cell, they make use of the host cell's chemical energy, protein, and nucleic acid-synthesizing ability to replicate themselves. After the infected host cell makes viral components and virus particles are released, the host cell is often dissolved. Some viruses do not kill cells but transform them into a cancerous state. Some cause illness and then seem to disappear, while remaining latent and later causing another, sometimes much more severe, form of disease. In humans, viruses cause measles, mumps, yellow fever, poliomyelitis, influenza, and the common cold, among others. Some viral infections can be treated with drugs.