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Lifespan of a Virus

Philipp Enrique T. Lim limpe at sumax.seattleu.edu
Tue Aug 31 05:26:57 EST 1993

Based on my readings, a virus needs a host cell to replicate, and remains
inert or dormant without a host cell. 
Out of curiosity, then, if a virus is inert or dormant, is it, forever,
capable of replicating once a host cell becomes available?  

I had always wondered, if someone has Chicken Pox, for example, and they
were in a room, that room would have the airborne herpes zoster virus -
but how long does it take before that room would be safe, in that the
airborned viruses would no longer be able to replicate in a host cell
(would no longer possess the ability to cause Chicken Pox). 

Another scenario: if a test tube contains freshly drawn human blood that
is tainted with HIV virus or Hepatitis B virus, this blood has the
potential of infecting me if I had an open wound and I pore some of this
blood on the wound.  My question, then, is: if I left the test tube on a
corner in my room, and left it there for, say, a month, would I still get
infected if I pore this blood on a wound?  

I guess my question boils down to: How long is it, before the virus loses
its potential to replicate?  It was argued that a virus has no life in the
absence of a host cell, but is there a time-span in which a virus is
capable of replicating, after which, it looses its potential to replicate
or invade a host cell?  

Please respond by e-mail, since the newsfeed at our site is a little
Thank you very much for your advice. 
Philip Enrique Lim					Team OS/2
limpe at seattleu.edu					IBM OS/2 V2.1
lim at seattleu.edu

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